Fourth in a series of weekly scouting reports provided to SI.com by the network of former scouts, players, coaches and executives at the Baseline Group.
Owings is a big boy. He's got an XL frame and plus power. He is a middle-of-the-lineup type hitter -- not just because of his presence and size in the batter's box, but because he is capable of hitting the ball out of any park to all fields.
Owings "gets through the ball" very well, or in other words he does a good job of finishing his swing. He actually does it as well as any power hitter in the game. For a hitter to get through the ball, he must "get back" -- which means that most of his weight needs to shift back prior to moving forward in his stride. Owings has a smooth weight transition from the middle of his stance to his back side. There is a slight front leg trigger or "knee cock" that he'll use as a timing device. Once he makes his move he'll open slightly with his front foot and clear his hips for maximum power. The fact that Owings strides with his front foot open might give the appearance that he would pull off most pitches. But because he is able to keep his shoulders and hips square for so long, he is able to keep his weight balanced.
Owings is a very strong guy. On the mound his physique produces a low arm slot. As a hitter it does the same. He's a good low ball hitter with low ball power. Right-handers are naturally good high ball hitters, but not Owings. He likes the ball down.
He doesn't like the ball inside, especially one that is tailing hard. Also, he can get to an elevated fastball, but he won't drive it as well as he does a low ball.
Because Owings is a pitcher, as a hitter he is able to sense a pitcher's weakness or game plan better than most hitters.
• Granted it was a small sample size (60 at-bats), but Owings led the 2007 Diamondbacks in batting average (.333) and slugging percentage (.683). Orlando Hudson (.294) and Tony Clark (.511) were second in those categories.
• In 157 career professional (minor-league and major-league) at bats, Owings is batting .338. That's .371 in the minors and .316 in the majors.
Owings is pitching well in his second year in the majors. Through 10 starts, the Diamondbacks starter has improved his ERA from 4.30 to 3.73, and his WHIP, from 1.284 to 1.181. While his walk rate has remained relatively the same (3.0 per nine innings in 2007 versus 2.9 this year), his strikeout rate has improved by 27 percent, from 6.2 per nine innings to 7.9. His batting average against has dropped from .253 to .226.
Owings is young (25) and athletic. He competes on the mound and at the plate. He will use three pitches (fastball, slider, change-up). He uses both sides of the plate and he'll elevate the ball in the strike zone when ahead of hitters. Owings has a natural low three-quarter arm slot that creates deception for hitters. He's mature and knows how to make adjustments during the game. He is committed to pitching inside and follows his game plan.
Owings' prowess at the plate (he's a .316 hitter in 95 career at bats) gives him a real advantage during his starts. Not only will Owings provide more offense than the average starting pitcher, his presence in the lineup compels opposing pitchers to pitch differently to the Diamondbacks' seven and eight hitters. Consider that Owings is hitting .286 this year and that Brandon Webb is hitting .091. Projecting these averages over three at-bats per game and 32 games, Owings will produce 19 more hits than Webb, or 0.6 hits more per game. That's a big difference.
• Good tailing fastball
• Still improving -- he's just 25-years-old with only 65 professional starts under his belt (37 in the majors and 28 in the minors)
• Able to make adjustments during a game
• Good deception
• Below average break on his slider
• Lack of top-end velocity
• Moderate risk of injury because of his arm slot
Movement: Owings' fastball shows plus-tailing action with some sink. He'll usually use a two-seam fastball, but he'll use a four-seam fastball inside to lefties and up in the strike zone.
Command: He has the best command of his fastball when thrown to his armside; he doesn't get as many strikes with it when thrown gloveside. He pitches very well up in the zone.
Plan: Owings likes to get ahead in the count with his fastball, and he likes to start it away from hitters. When he is ahead in the count (usually with two strikes), he'll elevate the ball and use his fastball as an outpitch at the top of the zone.
Movement: Owings' slider has below average break when he throws it over the plate. It shows more depth when thrown off the plate to his gloveside.
Command: Owings has the best command of his slider when he throws it gloveside.
Plan: He likes to use his slider in middle counts, especially as an outpitch to anxious right-handed hitters.
Movement: Owings' change-up shows both sinking and tailing action.
Command: He commands his change-up best when he throws it armside and down in the strike zone.
Plan: Owings tries to keep this pitch away from left-handed hitters. He'll use it in middle counts against left-handed hitters to set up his fastball inside. Against righties who are good fastball hitters, he'll use it early in the count, and it will show less movement.
Owings is a good athlete and has good balance over the rubber. He gets good arm extension in the back, but he has a low three-quarter slot. This creates a deceptive point of release for the hitter. He does a good job of finishing his pitches in his follow through. He works from the first base side of the rubber, enabling him to get his plus-tailing fastball to work across the plate. Owings needs to command his tailing fastball early in the count to both sides of the plate. When he does this successfully it allows him to use his slider and change-up more effectively more often.