With his beach-blond hair tucked neatly underneath a baseball cap and wraparound sunglasses shielding his eyes, 6-foot-3, 185-pound pitcher Hayden Penn could pass for 30. But, difficult as it is to believe at first glance, Penn is just 19 years old, two years removed from his high school graduation and the youngest player on Bowie's roster by more than three years. In his first full professional season, the San Diego native has climbed from less-advanced Class A Delmarva to Class A Frederick and to the Class AA Baysox last week.
"It's overwhelming sometimes when I think about it, but I felt like I've had a pretty good year, and I think I deserve to be here," Penn said. "I just want to make the most of my opportunity and show that I can pitch here."
Penn picked up a win in his debut with the Baysox last week against Altoona, striking out eight, walking just two and allowing three runs on four hits in 51/3 innings. And although the right-hander gave up five earned runs in 41/3 innings against Akron on Thursday, he showed flashes of his seemingly limitless potential even without his nasty change-up working.
"It just deserted me completely," Penn said of what usually is his best pitch. "But my confidence is still way up."
In just less than two months at Delmarva, Penn went 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 19 walks. In a nine-week stint with Frederick, Penn was 6-4 with a 3.49 ERA, 57 strikeouts and 19 walks.
"I had the guy in instructional league last October, and here he is pitching in the Eastern League," Baysox Manager Dave Trembley said. "The guy is on the fast track."
Note: Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers will be at Prince George's Stadium on Sunday for Bowie's 6:05 game against New Britain. As part of the Rolaids "Bat and Win $10,000 Game," Bowie resident Scott Schoenick was selected to face Fingers before the top of the fourth inning. Schoenick, who will get three swings, will win $1,000 if he hits one ball out of the infield, $2,000 if he hits two out of the infield and $10,000 if he hits three out of the infield.