BLUF: True shortstop with pop that needs to tame approach and make more contact.
The Player: Chris Owings (SS, Arizona Diamondbacks) – Arizona popped Owings in the supplemental first round in 2009 and he debuted as a 17-year old in the Pioneer League with a .306/.324/.426 line in 24 games. With an aggressive assignment to the Midwest League in 2010, Owings showed very well by hitting .298/.323/.447 in a very difficult offensive environment. The 19-year old Owings went to High-A Visalia in 2011 and put up disappointing numbers with a .246 average and .388 slugging percentage in the Cal League. He returned to the Cal League in 2012 and torched pitchers with a .324/.362/.544 line in 59 games before being promoted to Double-A. With Mobile, the 20-year old Owings hit .263 with 19 extra-base hits in 69 games.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Personal Observation (Midwest League 2010), Industry Contacts
Body (5-10, 180): Athletic, strong body. Solid frame. Fits the middle infield prototype. Athletic movements with good balance and coordination.
Hit: Quiet load/trigger. Very little noise in his body, particularly the head as he begins his swing. Quick hands with strong forearms and wrists. Generates good bat speed. Can jump all over FBs and drive them to all parts of the park. Tons of swing and miss, particularly with soft and spinning stuff. Good CH completely fool him and have him out on his front foot. Will chase breaking balls out of the zone. Aggressive swinger that doesn’t demonstrate willingness to work counts. Average potential but approach will hold him back. Grade – 30/40
Power: More pop than appearance suggests. Can drive ball to gaps with ease. Has juice for 12-15 home runs a year and hits the ball hard enough with enough consistency that swing and miss won’t hamper ability to reach power. Raw grade for HR power may not be average, but with doubles, average power is likely. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Plus tool. Showed more consistency with arm slot and release point, improving consistent velocity and accuracy. Plays well on the left side of the infield. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Very good glove. Soft hands and excellent instincts. Game has slowed for him, making routine plays more routine and excellent plays more frequent. Range isn’t exceptional but instincts help it play up. Gets to balls up the middle better than he does in the hole. Overall very good defender with the head for the position. Legit SS. Should stick and could be an above-average defender. Grade – 50/50
Speed: Will flash occasional plus times to first. More consistently solid average and it plays at that level. Instincts are improving on the bases and he could steal 15 bases annually. Runs hard. Grade – 50/50
Summation: True shortstop with above-average defensive potential and plus arm. Makes all the plays and is becoming a more consistent defender every day. Nice up-the-middle profile. Bat will determine future role. Has juice in bat for plenty of doubles and 10-15 home runs. Hit tool is a question. Lots of swing and miss and a lack of barrel control on secondary pitches. Can rake FBsbut must tighten zone and approach to tap into offensive potential. Has ceiling as a 15-homer, 15-steal, .260 hitter with strong defense. Quality first division player if everything materializes and a very good utility player with pop if the swing and miss hold him back offensively.
Relative Risk: High. Despite proximity to big leagues, high swing-and-miss rate sustains elevated risk level.
Future: Owings needs additional time in Double-A and some time for adjustments and polishing in Triple-A. With Cliff Pennington arriving from Oakland, the Diamondbacks can take their time with Owings and let him mature into a solid everyday guy for the 2014 season.