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Chris Owings and the Uncertain Arizona Shortstop Situation
Posted By Mike Petriello On September 6, 2013 @ 8:15 am In Shortstops | 4 Comments
The Diamondbacks recalled shortstop Chris Owings to the big leagues a few days ago as part of the September roster expansion, and any time you get an infielder in his age-21 season who just won both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player awards in the Pacific Coast League, it stands that you should take notice.
Of course, the Diamondbacks already have Didi Gregorius at shortstop, and he’s just 23 himself. So as I try to parse the long-term situation in Arizona at the position, I keep coming back to these three thoughts:
So it’s anything but clear about what Gregorius’ future is in Arizona, and it may only get more unsettled as the Diamondbacks get officially eliminated from the playoff hunt. (They entered Thursday night’s game at just two games over .500.)
Back to Owings, he made a nice step forward with his .330/.359/.482 line for Triple-A Reno (warning: PCL grain of salt not included) as well as 12 homers and 20 steals, and manager Kirk Gibson indicated that he’d like to see what his young shortstop can do:
“We’re going to use him,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “We’ve got to see what he can do. He’s earned it, he’s played well. I want to find out what he can do, for sure, I don’t want him to just sit there.”
“Just the lineup, overall, we play a lot of the same guys and we haven’t been successful, so why wouldn’t I utilize some of the new guys who are up?” Gibson said.
Owings was MLB.com’s #3 Arizona prospect in their latest update, behind only Archie Bradley & Matt Davidson, and that’s up from #6 prior to the season. He has the potential to be at least an average offensive infielder, thanks to his ability to hit for average with some pop and speed, but he may be held back by his poor walk rate, which was just 3.8% in Triple-A this year and only 3.5% for Double-A Mobile in 2012. The bar for offense at shortstop is pretty low, of course, which would help make him look better, and it’s certainly not as though Gregorius is setting untouchable standards in the desert.
With Gregorius ahead and Nick Ahmed behind, there’s also been some talk that Owings could see time at second base, where he played in 11 games this season for Reno. If so, that would likely be with another team, since Aaron Hill is firmly entrenched at the keystone for the Diamondbacks for the next few seasons. Either way, Gibson sounds like he’d like to see what Owings can do, potentially making him an interesting long-term keeper option for fantasy owners in deep leagues.
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