D-backs' Owings Returns To Form In Second Try At Visalia
Coming into 2012, it was uncertain whether Diamondbacks prospect Chris Owings
would be playing at Double-A Mobile or high Class A Visalia, where he spent all of last season. Despite his surprising power and impressive tools at shortstop, Owings struggled some in 2011. He finished the season in a 12-for-73 slump (.164) and ultimately the decision was made for the 20-year-old to return to Visalia.
So how did Owings respond?
Only by being the most consistent hitter in the California League while playing every day at shortstop. Owings' performance was worthy of a starting spot in the California-Carolina League All-Star Game as well as an appearance at the home run derby at BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C. Midseason honors are nothing new for the Visalia shortstop; he earned a spot in the Midwest League all-star game in 2010 while playing for low Class A South Bend.
"It's good to be back here on the east coast," said the South Carolina native before the all-star game. "I'm happy and excited to be here. It's my second all-star game, so I'm just trying to take it all in again."
At the midpoint of this season, Owings was batting a league-leading .324 with 11 home runs, finally earning himself that promotion to Double-A Mobile, where he was off to a .298/.333/.439 start in 57 at-bats.
"I put in a lot of work in the offseason and continued to work hard throughout the season and it's been paying off," Owings said. "I've been working on my swing a little bit, I started hitting with a little leg kick and just kind of carried that into the season. I continued working on it through spring training and tried to get it down pat and just kind of carried it on through."
Like many young players, Owings benefited from some time spent at spring training this season with the Diamondbacks at their facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. He used that time to glean valuable advice off of some veterans within the organization.
"Going to big league camp this year, (Diamondbacks shortstop) John McDonald was a big influence," Owings said. "(Bench coach) Alan Trammell and all the coaches out there have helped me out tremendously in the field."
Owings still maintains a nearly 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio, a number that must improve as the season goes on. Still, those within the organization have to be extremely pleased with Owings' overall production so far in 2012. Asked what's separating him from the next level, Owings talks about doing things to avoid those struggles he had at the end of last year.
"Being more consistent," he said. "I think that's why I was sent back to High-A this year. Just getting more consistent at the plate and in the field and just separating offense from defense. You know, if you have a bad day at the plate you can't take it into the field."
As for how much the young shortstop thinks about the ultimate goal of getting to the big leagues, Owings response is similar to that of many of the other all-stars at this year's event: all that really matters is the task at hand.
"Obviously you have that dream in the back of your head about getting to the big leagues, but you have to take it day by day. You have to do what's best for you today and go from there."