Owings' Progress Impresses Diamondbacks

PHOENIX—It seemed only natural that Chris Owings and Alan Trammell would hit it off this spring. Trammell, a major league shortstop at age 19, recognized a kindred spirit in Owings, a shortstop who at 19 was the youngest player invited to Diamondbacks camp.

While Owings might not make it to the big leagues in his teens, he demonstrated the skill set that made him a sandwich pick out of Gilbert (S.C) High in the 2009 draft and one of the top prospects in the Diamondbacks' system. 

Trammell and Owings worked on the finer points of the position, the kind of knowledge that can be invaluable coming from a 20-year major leaguer—the best angle for throwing to second base to start a double play, recognizing the best place to take a hop on a batted ball or on a relay from the outfield. Former all-stars and Gold Glovers Matt Williams and Jay Bell also lent a hand.

"The coaches have been awesome. I've picked up a bunch of stuff. It was really good working with Alan Trammell," said Owings, who opened the season at high Class A Visalia.

"Sponge," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said of Owings. "He's a very good player. You watch, he has good savvy. He runs well, has good pop. He's a good-looking player. He's executed everything we've asked him to execute."

The Diamondbacks also noticed the things you can't teach, like how Owings receives the ball on a stolen base attempt at second base and makes a quick, snap tag at the bag. Or the way he got the bat on an inside pitch to get a safety squeeze down in an early spring game.

Owings hit .306/.326/.426 in his first season at Rookie-level Missoula before batting .298/.323/.447 at low Class A South Bend, where he made the Midwest League all-star game with 19 doubles, five home runs and 29 RBIs in 62 games. He missed the second half of the season with plantar fasciitis, giving him a ready-made goal for 2011.

"This year I'm going to really work on staying healthy. That's one of my main keys," Owings said.

Snake Bites

• Slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt homered twice on Opening Day for Double-A Mobile and went deep four times in the BayBears' first five games. Goldschimdt, 23, hit 35 home runs for Visalia in 2010.

• The Visalia franchise, which has a long relationship with Japanese baseball, planned to donate a portion of the tickets sold for its season opener April 7 to the American Red Cross' Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief fund. Visalia was owned by the Japan Sports group from 1989-97, and the franchise functioned as a co-op with the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Pacific League in 1995-96. "We realized the magnitude of the relief effort ahead for Japan. We are eager to do our small part to help," Rawhide president Tom Seidler said.