Throughout the minor league season, I will be writing about a prospect every Monday who has reached the AA level or higher that could be on your fantasy roster by season's end, and what you should know about them. Despite the acquisition of DiDi Gregorius this past offseason, the Diamondbacks still hold one of the top shortstop prospects in the high minors right now. Whether he will be moved off the position remains to be seen, but Chris Owings could see time as soon as this season for fantasy owners.
Weight: 180 lbs.
On 40-Man Roster: No
Age as of 7/8/13: 21 (Turns 22 in August)
Owings was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the supplemental first round of the 2009 draft, a pick the team received for losing free agent reliever Juan Cruz. The team was able to get him signed to a bonus just shy of $1 million, and he appeared in 24 games for the Diamondbacks' Pioneer League affiliate in Missoula.
The Diamondbacks sent Owings to full season Low-A for 2010, and he appeared in 62 games before missing time with plantar fascitis. He posted a solid .298/.323/.447 slash line with 5 home runs and 1 stolen base. Despite missing that time, Owings was promoted to High-A Visalia for the 2011 season, where his struggles with pitch recognition became more apparent. He finished the year with a .246/.274/.388 slash line with 11 home runs and 10 stolen bases, but also attached to a 130:15 K/BB ratio in 121 games.
After a stint in the Arizona Fall League after that year, Owings returned to High-A to start the 2012 season, and was promoted out of High-A after hitting .324/.362/.544 with 11 home runs and 8 stolen bases in just 59 games. He finished the 2012 year at AA, hitting 6 more home runs and stealing 4 more bases in 69 games. The walk and strikeout concerns continued though, as he walked 24 times and struck out 132 in 128 games played.
Despite these concerns, the Diamondbacks sent Owings to AAA Reno for the 2013 season, where he has been (as expected given the offensive environment) destroying pitching to a .345//.364/.474 clip with 7 home runs and 13 stolen bases. He was also named as a replacement for the Futures Game on the 14th this year.
The Scouting Report - Scouting reports are gathered from other internet sources and written reports, unless otherwise noted.
Owings' defense is expected to be good enough to stick at the position, although it sounds like he would likely shift in deference to DiDi Gregorius at the major league level. His bat will still play very well at 2B, especially given the relative weakness of the position recently. He generates solid bat speed, and is anticipated to provide 15+ home runs at his peak, and is considered to be a good enough runner to provide 15-20 stolen bases at the Major League level. The concerns about his lack of walks could lead to concerns down the line, and he will need to do better than his single level high of 5.1% walk rate. I wouldn't expect a .300 hitter, but I could see seasons from Owings where he hits .270+ with those home run and stolen base totals.
What's Keeping Him From Contributing Now?
He's pretty well blocked at shortstop as the team acquired DiDi Gregorius this past offseason as a part of the trade that sent Trevor Bauer out of town, and the team signed Aaron Hill to a three year extension back in February. He could see time potentially as a showcase for a trade, and it seems like other than the concerns about walks, there isn't a lot left for him to prove at AAA. He isn't on the 40-man roster yet, although he will need to be protected this coming offseason.
When Could He Arrive?
While he may be close to Major League ready, it's a bit harder to see a path that moves him into a starting role with the Diamondbacks as of now. I can see a call up this season, especially if an injury occurs again to either Hill or Gregorius. That said, he could end up in a utility role, as all of the starting infielders are locked up through at least 2016.
What Could He Do For Fantasy Owners Once He Gets There?
If he is given a full season of at bats, I can see a .265-.270 batting average, 15 home runs, and 15 stolen bases, which would be a very solid line from a middle infielder.