Prospect Henry Owens got a taste of the limelight today with a featured writeup in today's New York Post. The article is really a good read, and it paints Owens as a baseball novice who is plenty happy to be in big league camp, soaking up the considerable pitching knowledge of Billy Wagner, Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez.
As the article points out, Owens was taken by from the Pirates in the minor league portion of the 2004 Rule 5 draft. Owens was 25 at the time, having spent four years in the Pirates' system without advancing past High Class A Lynchburg of the Carolina League.
YEAR AGE LG ERA IP BB SO WP HR/9 K/9 K/BB 2002 23 NYPL 2.62 44.2 16 63 8 0.81 12.69 3.94 2003 24 Caro 2.45 14.2 11 21 0 0.00 12.89 1.91 2003 24 SAL 2.91 34.0 17 52 7 0.26 13.76 3.06 2004 25 Caro 4.28 54.2 26 49 10 0.66 8.07 1.88His strikeout and homerun rates were off the charts. He averaged almost thirteen whiffs per nine innings through his first three seasons in the Bucs' system before falling off quite a bit in 2004. These rates speak to his ability to deceive batters with his delivery, as well as his overpowering fastball, which regularly visits the high-nineties on the radar gun.
His walk rate wasn't outstanding at this point, but it wasn't terrible either, especially considering he hadn't thrown a pitch before being signed by Pittsburgh. Take a look at his wild pitch rates: that's Victor Zambrano territory there. Having never actually seen Owens pitch I would have guessed that either:
a) As an inexperienced pitcher he was prone to the occasional wild toss
b) His deceptive delivery deceived Owens's catchers in addition to batters
So the Pirates left Owens unprotected and the Mets, in one of Omar Minaya's first moves as GM, plucked him from their system. Despite his ability to keep the ball out of play (and in the ballpark when it was in play), he was already 25 and had nary a sniff of Double-A ball.
YEAR AGE LG ERA IP BB SO WP HR/9 K/9 K/BB 2005 26 FSL 3.15 54.1 24 74 7 0.33 12.26 3.08 2005 26 Wntr 2.59 24.1 13 37 x x.xx 13.68 2.85Owens has continued to overpower minor league hitters in his time with the Mets, including a stint in winter ball in which he annihilated opposing batters. At this point there is no question that he has the ability to dominate 18-year-olds but he has yet to prove a thing against accomplished batsmen. Even if Owens has a great spring I don't feel he has a very good chance of heading north with the big club in April. He will head north, only to Binghamton instead of Queens. If Owens can handle Double-A hitters the way he has everyone else I wouldn't be surprised if he was called up when rosters expand in September.