The Astros acquired Rudy Owens from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in the 2012 trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez to the Buccos. A 28th round pick in the 2006 draft, Owens signed with the Pirates as a 19-year old. The lefty has worked almost exclusively as a starter throughout his minor league career and was named Pittsburgh’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in both 2009 and 2010.
Despite his 6′ 3″, 230 pound frame, Owens is anything but a power pitcher. With a fastball that tops out in the low nineties, Owens depends on outstanding control in addition to a plus changeup and a decent curve. Owens has been successful in the minors by limiting base runners (1.163 career WHIP) thanks in part to an outstanding 2.0 BB/9 IP rate. Sound familiar? (See Brett Oberholtzer)
A stress fracture in his left foot limited Owens to only 17 innings pitched at Oklahoma City last season. Rudy returned to the mound this winter, making ten starts for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Republic. In 53 & 2/3 innings, Owens posted a 2.68 ERA while holding hitters to a .191 batting average.
At 26 years of age, Owens is getting a little long in the tooth for a prospect. Expect the Astros to make a move sooner rather than later with the big lefty. If he stays in the organization, Owens should get a call to the big leagues at some point in the 2014 season.
Rudy Owens (Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)