Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Ohlendorf & Owings: A Closer Look

It has become apparent that the two young arms whom the Yankees covet most of Arizona's abundant minor league system are Ross Ohlendorf and Micah Owings. After searching high and far I came across more detailed discussions on their make-up, pitching style, arsenal, etc. Today's New York Times has a story on the Yankees' intentions of banishing Johnson in order to free up money for a Rocket return to the Bronx, but there was also a mention of Owings and Ohlendorf:

Ohlendorf graduated from Princeton and has a hard sinker, the pitch that Chien-Ming Wang has used to great effect for the Yankees. Ohlendorf had 129 strikeouts and only 29 walks in 183 2/3 innings at two minor league levels last season.

“He’s a workhorse,” said Scott Bradley, Princeton’s baseball coach. “He was going to go to spring training with a real legitimate chance to make their staff. He’s been a starter his whole minor league career, but a lot of people think because he’s so durable that he could be a seventh- or eighth-inning guy. He gives up very few home runs because everything’s got that downward sink to it.

These are some encouraging words if Ohlendorf's sinker is as dominant as is said to be. If you are interested, here are some softball questions from a Princeton interview with Ohlendorf, which discusses his Texas baseball roots as well as his admiration for Senor Clemens. (Should Clemens come to the Bronx, he and Mussina could develop a great teacher/pupil relationship)

As far as 2006, Ohlendorf made 28 starts, garnered a 3.30 ERA, tossed 183 innings, surrendered 186 hits, struck-out 128 and walked 29. His WHIP during the 27 starts at AA Tennessee was an impressive 1.17 and he doesn't give up the big fly allowing just 13 homers during a career high in innings pitched and starts made.

At 6-4 and 235lbs. Ohlendorf - who hails from Austin - fits the bulky power-pitching mold that is constantly associated with Texan starters. His ability to throw strikes at an outrageous rate gives him the flexibility to start games or come out of the bullpen without having Joe Torre worry about the Farnsworth syndrome: walking the ballpark and surrendering hits without effort.

Prospect #2, who is my personal favorite from a handful of talented DBack pitching prospects, also comes from the deep south. Micah Owings attended Georgia Tech and the 6-5 230lb. powerarm joins an ever-increasing crop of fielder-converted pitchers.

As far as his 2006, Owings split his time between AA and AAA making 12 starts and 15 starts respectively. He went 10-0 at AAA Tuscon, however his hits/inning and k/bb rates did go up following his promotion from AA Tennessee. Although his dominance was more apparent in AA with a 2.91 ERA, 69 strikeouts to 17 walks, it is important to remember that he was just 23 years-old and still developing as a professional pitcher. He was still able to strike batters out at Tuscon (61) but his walk total did shoot up (34); which is to be expected when he started the 2006 campaign at double-a. As far as actual pitches, Owings boasts a consistent 94mph heavy fastball and hard slider said to be (when its tight) in the Bonderman ilk.

As far as combined statistics at Tennessee and Tuscon his 2006 line was approximately: 161 innings, 162 hits, 130 strikeouts, a 3.45 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. His ability to remain successful at both classes is an important factor and should not be downplayed. Especially because his overall numbers did not balloon with walks being the only noticeable increase. A glaring ability to keep the ball in the ballpark at both levels (4 homers in 74 innings at AA and 4 homers in 88 innings at AAA) speaks to hitters' inability to hit Owings hard. The fact that he gave up about a hit per inning is pretty impressive in itself and could be further improved. has a good story on Owings, describing him as a "deeply religious" man who attributes his rapid success to the divine. The new edition of Andy Pettite could be a good mentoring figure should Owings come to the Yankees. The article also speaks of his natural athletic ability as he can still rake: batting .355 with 18homers and 63rbi with the Green Wave last year. From the story:

The mental part of his game already is top-notch.

"The first time I met him was in Spring Training, and he made a trip with us from Tucson to Yuma to play the Padres," Parrott recalled. "I was impressed with the way he prepared himself for that game. I'm a big believer in being prepared physically and mentally.

"You can't just hop up, get loose and go in there and pitch without being prepared mentally."

Whereas some pitchers relax by listening to music, playing cards or dominoes, Owings sat in front of his locker, seemingly focused on the task at hand. "I could tell he was visually going through what he had to do," Parrott said. "Everything he did was very professional, and nothing has changed."

Nowhere else in MLB is the mental make-up of a pitcher more crucial than it is in New York. Hearing descriptions of Owings as "a bulldog" or "battle-tested" when it comes to tight situations is an important aspect of Owings potential with the big team in the Bronx.

UPDATE: For those of you visiting for the first time please check out the main page and there is also an update on the Johnson deal and potential prospects. Also, please leave any comments you deem fit as far as your opinions on the prospects, the G-Unit trade, or the blog in general. Thanks, TG

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If these prospects are as good as advertised this Unit deal could end up being a heist. Keep up th good work on the site TG... I also heard some guy Medders might be a part of a deal, hes a reliever