- Full name Rudy C. Owens
- Born 12/18/1987 in Mesa, AZ
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 240 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Chandler-Gilbert CC
- Debut 05/23/2014
- Drafted in the 28th round (830th overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006 (signed for $390,000).
Organization Prospect Rankings
Part of the Pirates' last class of draft-and-follows, Owens signed for $390,000 in the spring of 2007. After doing little in his first two pro seasons, he won Pittsburgh's minor league pitcher of the year award in both 2009 and 2010. He became an Altoona legend in the latter season by pitching the Curve to the Eastern League title while wearing a perm reminiscent of 1970s pitchers such as Mark Fidrych, Ross Grimsley and Randy Jones. Altoona even held a Rudy Owens Perm Cap promotion last year. However, Owens wasn't feted in Triple-A in 2011, getting knocked around before he was shut down in August with shoulder fatigue. The Pirates still protected him on their 40-man roster after the season. After showing a 90-93 mph fastball down the stretch the year before, he had a hard time getting it above the mid-80s. Inconsistent mechanics and his tired shoulder contributed to the drop in velocity, which rendered his secondary pitches less effective because they lacked much separation from his fastball. He throws a slurvy curveball and a changeup that have improved but are still fringy. Owens, who has a realistic ceiling as a No. 4 starter, will go back to Indianapolis to start 2012.
Signed for $390,000 as a draft-and-follow, Owens posted a 5.06 ERA in his first two pro seasons but has been named Pirates minor league pitcher of the year in each of the last two. In 2010, he led the Eastern League in ERA (2.46) and fewest baserunners per nine innings (9.1). He grew stronger as the season progressed, giving up just six runs and four walks in his final eight starts. Owens grew stronger as the season progressed in another way, too, as his fastball went from 87-90 to 90-93 mph down the stretch. The extra velocity highly encouraged the Pirates, who proclaimed that his soft-tossing-lefty tag no longer applied. His fastball command is solid--occasionally, it's excellent--and the pitch has some late run. His secondary offerings, a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup, are no better than average pitches but he locates them well. Owens' pinpoint control comes from easily repeating his delivery, and the way he uses it to pick apart hitters' weaknesses is reminiscent of a young Zach Duke. How well Owens retains his added velocity will determine if he's a mid-rotation starter or more of a back-end option. He'll begin 2011 in Triple-A and could reach Pittsburgh by the end of the season.
One of the last draft-and-follows left in the system, Owens was undoubtedly the Pirates' breakout player of 2009. After going 4-10, 5.06 in his first two pro seasons, he went 11-2, 2.10 with a 113-17 K-BB ratio in 124 innings. He was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year and most outstanding pitcher in the low Class A South Atlantic League, where he had a 32-inning scoreless streak. Thanks to a simple delivery that he repeats easily, Owens has pinpoint command. He can spot each of his pitches on both sides of the plate and in all four quadrants of the strike zone. He's aggressive with his four-seam fastball, which sits at 87-90 mph. His changeup grades out as his best pitch, and he has made improvements with his slurvy curveball. Owens' stuff is far from overpowering, and high Class A hitters batted .305 against him in his short stint there. He's a classic crafty lefthander, but he has much to prove against more advanced competition. Owens will likely begin 2010 back at high Class A Bradenton and finish the season in Double-A. How he performs there will provide a clearer picture of his future.
Minor League Top Prospects
Owens doesn't have Morris' ceiling, but he has feel for pitching to spare and impressive command, profiling him as a back-of-the-rotation starter. He led the EL in ERA (2.46) and baserunners per nine innings (9.1), posting a 1.41 ERA in his last nine starts after his fastball velocity improved. Owens sat at 87-90 mph with his fastball early in the season before working at 90-93 mph down the stretch. He has solid-average fastball command and good late run on his heater. He also throws a slurvy breaking ball that shows flashes of being an average pitch, and a fringy changeup. "He has poise, a delivery he repeats and durability," Walbeck said. "He handles success well too. He's got a little deception with his fastball, commands it and has an idea. He sees a hitter's holes and weaknesses and goes after them, and he can elevate if he needs to."
Owens didn't need to light up the radar guns to gain the respect of SAL managers. Though his fastball sits at 87-90 mph, they rated him the league's best pitching prospect at midseason, and also cited him as having the best changeup and control. He also won the SAL's pitcher of the year award after going 10-1, 1.70 in 19 starts. Owens threw a two-seam fastball in the past but solely concentrated on a four-seamer this year. His changeup operates in the upper 70s, and his third pitch is a slower, loopy slurve. He repeats his simple delivery well. His greatest advantage, however, might be his intelligence. Owens knows that he's not going to overpower hitters, so he pitches quickly when runners aren't on base. Once runners do get on, he slows down his pace and works on getting outs. He knows how to pitch and use his defense. Given those attributes, Owens garnered comparisons to Tom Glavine. "The only thing is at this level, lefties can dominate just by being lefty," Wathan said. "But I think he's the real deal, just because of his fastball command to both sides of the plate and that changeup. He's already got those things going for him."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Control in the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011
- Rated Best Control in the Eastern League in 2010
- Rated Best Changeup in the Eastern League in 2010
- Rated Best Control in the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2009
- Rated Best Control in the South Atlantic League in 2009
- Rated Best Changeup in the South Atlantic League in 2009