Improving changeup aids Owens


Over three years in the Pirates’ farm system, a total of 72 outings (68 starts), left-hander Rudy Owens is 27-18 with a sparkling 2.92 ERA.

In 2009, Owens went a combined 11-2 with a 2.10 ERA for Low-A West Virginia and High-A Lynchburg. This year, he went 12-6 with a league-leading 2.46 ERA for Double-A Altoona. Both years, he was named the club’s minor league pitcher of the year.

“I went into this year just trying to take everything in — trying to learn from the hitters, learn from my catchers and how they call they games, learn from my stuff,” Owens said. “I kind of caught on and trusted my stuff and my ability to call my own games. That’s where I took off.”

Owens, 22, was a 28th-round draft pick in 2006. Six of the 12 pitchers drafted ahead of him who signed with the Pirates are no longer with the organization.

Owens likely will begin next season with Triple-A Indianapolis. GM Neal Huntington recently indicated Owens is on a short list of prospects who might pitch for the Pirates at some point in 2011.

A big reason for Owens’ success is his changeup, which he said got even better this year. He threw a change at Chandler Gilbert (Ariz.) Community College, but knew it wasn’t good enough to work in the pros. He refined his change during Instructional League after playing rookie ball in 2007.

“I worked on it during the throwing program, messing with the grip, until I felt comfortable,” Owens said. “You’ve got to throw it to make it feel good. I threw it enough and got comfortable with it. I messed with the grip until I got to that point. It’s something I’ve got to perfect. I’ve got to be able to throw it in the strike zone when I want to or in the dirt when I need to. I’m just trying to get the guy to swing or miss.”