Bowman, 24, went 7-16 with a 5.53 ERA in 28 appearances (26 starts) with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2015.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said. “He had a little bit of a down year. I’m not surprised.”
Bowman will need to stick with the Cardinals on the major league roster the entire season. Otherwise, he will need to be offered back to the Mets.
The Mets similarly gained the rights to left-hander Sean Gilmartin by keeping him at the major league level for the entire 2015 season after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft last December from the Minnesota Twins.
The Mets were able to retain right-hander Paul Sewald, infielder T.J. Rivera and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra, all of whom went unselected. Becerra, a highly regarded prospect, is only 21 years old and played at low-A Savannah in 2015.
“You do an analysis, and there’s a lot of risk with certain guys,” Ricco said. “But certainly the lower-level guys have a tough time, history has shown, sticking in the big leagues. It’s a calculated risk you take, and that was one of them.”
The Mets made no selections in the Rule 5 draft.
Bowman, drafted by the Mets in the 13th round in 2012 out of Princeton, twice attended fall-semester classes after turning professional. He wrote his senior thesis during spring training in 2014 and claimed his economics degree with fellow graduates in that June’s commencement ceremony, which favorably coincided with a Binghamton Mets off-day.
Bowman throws a fastball that sits at 90-94 mph, plus a curveball, slider and changeup. His delivery resembles Tim Lincecum's style, although Bowman said their motions have diverged in recent years.
“When I first got drafted, the two deliveries were very similar. But since then I’ve tried to move away from it,” Bowman said earlier this year. “I still get the comparison. I looked at his delivery quite a bit, so I feel that I know the nuances and the subtleties of it. In that sense I feel that they’ve diverged quite a bit. But on the surface, if you just look at them both, I guess I’m too close to it to see how similar they really are.
“His arm angle is a little higher, and I’ve come down a little bit to get some more movement on the two-seam. And then that exaggerated twist is a bit too much for me. And that head leaning back, where his head seems to go outside his body, I’ve tried to stay forward with the head instead of drifting off to the side.”
Meanwhile, Bowman picked a baseball topic for his senior thesis at Princeton. He evaluated how teams performed with free-agent baseball contracts. He might entertain front-office work someday, after his pitching career.
“It’s possible,” Bowman said. “I chose that [topic] mostly because it would keep me interested. I have an economics degree. It ended up being 80 pages, I think. You had to be focused on it for half a year. So I wanted something that would keep me interested for that amount of time.
“But certainly, putting a team on the field, we watch decisions being made. We want to know how that works.”