Much like Brett Oberholtzer, Rudy Owens is a left-handed pitching prospect who depends on finesse rather than power. At 25-years of age, Owens is close to being big league ready. His fastball peaks at around 90, but he has an excellent changeup and outstanding control. Owens was acquired last July in the trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh.
Owens was drafted by the Pirates out of Mesa High School back in 2006. After going 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA in a season of Junior College ball, the Pirates finally signed him. Owens blossomed in 2009, dominating the Class-A South Atlantic League by winning ten of eleven decisions and holding batters to a .197 average in slightly over 100 innings. His 1.70 ERA was the best in the league when he was promoted to High-A.
Owens was promoted to AA in 2010 and had another dominant season, posting a 0.98 WHIP in 150 innings. Despite his lack of velocity, Qwens was now considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh organization. Rudy moved up to AAA in 2011 and his results weren’t nearly as good. His WHIP ballooned to 1.433 and he missed the last month of the season with elbow soreness.
Owens would repeat the AAA level in 2012 and the results were more promising. He made the International League All-Star squad prior to being dealt to the Astros and moving to the Pacific Coast League. Owens produced a 10-8 record, a 3.48 ERA, and a 1.19 WHIP for the season.
The #5 spot in the Astros rotation will be up for grabs this spring. Owens should be one of several pitchers competing for the job. It’s hard to pick a favorite this early, but I think Owens at least has a fighting chance. It might be safer to say that he will be in Houston at some point during the season. If the Astros want to start the season with a lefty in their rotation they have Owens, Brett Oberholtzer and Dallas Keuchel to choose from. Whichever one of the three can separate from the pack will have a good chance to claim the #5 spot.