Rudy C. Owens
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 3", Weight 225 lb.
- School Chandler Gilbert Community College
- High School Mesa High School
- Debut May 23, 2014
- Final Game May 23, 2014
- Born December 18, 1987 in Mesa, AZ USA
Rudy Owens was the top South Atlantic League pitcher of 2009.
The Pittsburgh Pirates took Owens as a draft-and-follow in the 28th round of the 2006 amateur draft after being scouted by Ted Williams. After a year of junior college (where he was 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA), Pittsburgh signed him. They sent him to the 2007 GCL Pirates, for whom he was 1-4 with a 5.32 ERA. In 2008, Rudy had a 3-6, 4.97 record for the State College Spikes.
Then came 2009, when Owens dominated for the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League. He went 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA, 15 walks in 100 2/3 IP and a .197 opponent average. He was promoted to the 2009 Lynchburg Hillcats late in the year and had a 1-1, 3.86 record in six starts there. He then went 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in the Carolina League playoffs with a shutout of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He led Pirate farmhands in ERA (2.10), strikeouts (113) and opponent average (.219). He tied Brett Lorin for the 5th-best ERA of any minor leaguer, behind Brad Meyers, Travis Wood, Madison Bumgarner and Brian Matusz. He would have easily led the South Atlantic in ERA had he qualified. He was named the league's All-Star left-handed pitcher and Most Outstanding Pitcher. Baseball America rated him with the best changeup and best control in the circuit and the #9 Pirates prospect. They also rated him as the #11 prospect in the SAL, right ahead of West Virginia catcher Tony Sanchez. MILB.com named him the Class A Starting Pitcher of the Year.
Owens began 2010 with the Altoona Curve. In his AA debut, he faced Stephen Strasburg in one of the most-hyped minor league debuts in several years. He allowed Strasburg's first career pro hit; neither pitcher had a great day nor factored in the decision, as Altoona fell to the Harrisburg Senators. He had an excellent season with Altoona, finishing the year with a record of 12-6 and a 2.46 ERA in 26 starts, with a great K/W ratio of 132/23 in 150 innings. He led the Eastern League in ERA by .39 over Tommy Milone, tied for second in wins (behind Kyle Drabek), tied for third in strikeouts (even with Drabek, behind Milone and Justin Wilson) and had the second-fewest walks by a EL starter. He struggled in the postseason with 6 earned runs in 6 1/3 IP, taking a loss and battling Andy Pettitte in a no-decision. He also led Pirates farmhands in ERA. He was named the EL All-Star left-handed pitcher while Drabek took the honor on the right side. Baseball America rated him as having the best changeup in the EL and as being the #15 overall prospect, between Bryan Morris and Hector Noesi. For the second straight campaign, he was named the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
On the verge of breaking into the major leagues, he experienced a significant setback when he was promoted to AAA in 2011. Pitching for the Indianapolis Indians, his ERA ballooned to 5.05 in 21 starts, although his record was respectable at 9-7, and his control was still good, with 71 Ks against 32 walks in 112 1/3 innings. A left elbow injury cut his season short by a month.
He returned to Indianapolis to start 2012 and did much better. After 19 starts, his record stood at 8-5, 3.14. He also pitched in the 2012 AAA All-Star Game, relieving former Buc Zach Duke in the 5th inning with a 3-0 deficit for the IL. He retired Jake Elmore on a fly then allowed a hit to Ryan Wheeler. Mike Hessman struck out, Luis Jimenez walked and Wil Myers flew out. Miguel Socolovich relieved him to open the 6th. He was traded to the Houston Astros on July 24th. Along with two fellow top prospects - OF Robbie Grossman and P Colton Cain - he joined the Astros in return for veteran P Wandy Rodriguez.