I’ve been waiting to write about Rudy Owens since this offseason when I mentioned him in the Pirates 2009 Minor League Review. Owens was the Pirates 2009 Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year after having back-to-back disappointing seasons in 2007 and 2008. He throws a 87 to 90 mph fastball from a simple, yet repeatable delivery, tosses an excellent changeup and an improved curveball. Aggressively attacking the strike zone for a finesse lefty, Owens disables opposing batters with pinpoint command, locating his pitches and channeling Jamie Moyer. Much preseason doubt has been dismissed as he performed exceptionally well at Double-A this year.
2010 Stats: 7.9 K/9 | 1.4 BB/9 | 150 IP | 2.46 ERA | 3.17 FIP | .98 WHIP | .7 Hr/9 | 7.4 H/9 | .284 BABIP | 46.9 GB% | 14.3 LD% | 35.7 FB% | 21.5 IF/FB% | 6.9 Hr/FB%
Career Stats: 7.8 K/9 | 1.6 BB/9 | 354 IP | 2.92 ERA | 3.28 FIP | 1.04 WHIP | .6 Hr/9 | 7.8 H/9 | .284 BABIP | 43.8 GB% | 14.1 LD% | 37.9 FB% | 19.8 IF/FB% | 6.1 Hr/FB%
Seems to be a lot like Travis Wood: a crafty lefty that has some command and slightly above-average strikeout rates. What’s better though is that Owens has better ground ball rates, command that is doubly as sharp (career-wise), and a better FIP. Although his BABIP is a bit low, it isn’t completely unsustainable or overly lucky. Batters aren’t making a ton of solid contact as described by the low line drive rates (14.1 LD%) and high infield-fly ball rate (21.5 IF/F%). Sounds like a sleeper pick, darkhorse, or a possible surprise rookie of 2011. Now that you know, he shouldn’t be a surprise to you! In dynasty leagues, don’t give up much to grab him as he isn’t a top flight prospect, but he should rise fast in the next year’s rankings.
A consensus first round talent, Myers fell to the third round because of a high signing bonus demand (~$2 million). The Royals – who thought about drafting him in the first round instead of Aaron Crow – gladly drafted and signed him. He has “excellent raw power … quick wrists … ability to hit for average and power … good plate discipline … a plus arm … average speed.” His swinging motion makes his front foot land too early but he keeps his hands back well and is able to hit line drives to all parts of the ballpark. Defensively, his catching skills are a work in progress, he has a quick release on steal attempts but shoddy footwork and he also has trouble with pitches in the dirt. Scouts attribute his defensive skills, or lack thereof, due to playing a smorgasbord of positions as an amateur. Compared to Dale Murphy and Jayson Werth (two tall catchers who moved to the outfield) and it’s possible the Royals may get tempted to move his bat into an easier position to make the majors (i.e. right field). How did he perform this year at Class Low-A and High-A?
2010 Stats: .315/.429/.506 | 447 AB | 54 XBH | 14 Hr | .189 ISO | 12/6 SB/CS | 94:85 K:BB | .378 BABIP | 38 GB% | 16.7 LD% | 45.3 FB% | 15.5 IF/FB%
Career Stats: .324/.429/.533 | 531 AB | 68 XBH | 19 Hr | .209 ISO | 14/6 SB/CS | 112:94 K:BB | .384 BABIP | 39.9 GB% | 16.2 LD% | 43.9 FB% | 14.6 IF/FB%
Myers, unlike Hosmer and Moustakas, didn’t struggle at the pitching-friendly confines of the Royals lower minor league ballparks. Matter of fact, those number are called thriving! Although the power isn’t all home run power currently, there were plenty of extra base hits and potentially those doubles will carry over the fence. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than anticipated and is exceptional compared to other young power hitters. He hits a fair amount of fly-balls which could eventually lead to more home runs, and he added a surprising 12 steals this year. The only real negative I could find was the extremely high BABIP (.384 for his career). This will likely fall a bit in the higher minors leading to drop off in his slash line. Either way you dice his numbers up, they are oddly familiar to Mauer but with more power long term and less defense. Get the hype machine oiled with high performance synthetics, lubed better than Jiffy and built with a buttressing support to handle Brad Evans unwarranted barrage of alliterations, similes, and asinine metaphors; along with your “know-it-all but I’m two months too late” step-brother ESPN. Could be the next Buster Posey with better team management, Carlos Santana without the knee injury, Matt Wieters hopefully with better production, Brian McCann with better eyes, or Joe Mauer without the back injuries. Those are all the high upsides with Wieters thrown in to hold expectations. P.S. If you couldn’t tell, I like him. A LOT!