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Micah Owings

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Micah Burton Owings

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 5", Weight 225 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Micah Owings is a pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is arguably the best-hitting pitcher in baseball at this time and has been used regularly as a pinch-hitter.

His brother, Jon Mark Owings, has played in the minors since 2004.

[edit] High school

Owings was a two-way high school star. He hit .448/?/1.010 in his senior year of high school (2002) while going 12-1 with a 1.03 ERA on the mound. He homered in 25 of 105 AB and whiffed 121 batters in 75 innings while walking only three and allowing 41 hits. Baseball America rated him as a second-team high school All-American. He hit 69 home runs in his high school career, one less than Drew Henson's record (broken by two other players in 2002). Micah homered in both of the games in the Georgia 3-A championship and struck out 14 in the title-clinching shutout. The Colorado Rockies drafted him in the second round of the 2002 Amateur Draft but he instead opted to go to Georgia Tech.

[edit] College career

In his first year at Georgia Tech, Owings was 9-3 with a 3.99 ERA and he hit .306/?/.593. He was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and made the All-Conference team as a utility man. The freshman led the team in homers and made the Baseball America All-American team as a second-team utility man and the utility man on their freshman All-American team.

In 2004, Micah batted .318/.394/.549 with another 15 homers, 65 runs and 64 RBI. He had a 9-3, 3.89 mark on the mound and led the ACC with 112 strikeouts. The Chicago Cubs picked him in the 19th round of the 2004 amateur draft but he did not sign. He then decided to transfer from Georgia Tech and toured a few schools, settling on Tulane University.

Owings produced at a .355/.470/.719 clip for Tulane while going 12-4 with a 3.26 ERA on the mound. He struck out 135 in 130 innings while walking 25; he trailed Lance Broadway in strikeouts in Conference USA and won Player of the Year honors. He led the Conference in home runs and was 4th in average. He made the All-Conference team as a DH/utility man. Micah was 7th in NCAA Division I in slugging and 9th in strikeouts. He made the Baseball America All-American third team as a utility man. Owings was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA for Tulane in the 2005 College World Series but they lost their two other games in the Series for a disappointing finish for a team ranked #1 in the nation coming in.

[edit] Minors

The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Owings in the 3rd round of the 2005 amateur draft, using a compensation pick they got for the loss of Richie Sexson to free agency. He was signed by scout Mike Valarezo for a $445,000 bonus. Assigned to the Lancaster Jethawks of the Class A California League, Owings went 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 16 relief appearances. He allowed a .221 average and had a whopping 30:4 K:BB ratio in 22 IP.

Owings began 2006 with the Tennessee Smokies of the AA Southern League (6-2, 2.91, 8.35 K/9, 2.06 BB/9) and then was promoted to the AAA Tucson Sidewinders of the Pacific Coast League. He went 10-0 for Tucson with a 3.70 ERA. Opponents hit .291, though, and his K/BB ratio fell drastically with 61 strikeouts and 34 walks in 87 2/3 IP. He led the Diamondbacks' farm system in wins and tied Dustin Nippert for the lead with 130 strikeouts. He was named the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He was the winning pitcher in the first Bricktown Showdown, holding the Toledo Mud Hens to one run in five innings while striking out six. Overall, Owings tied Matt Maloney and Zack Segovia for third in the US-based affiliated minors in wins behind only Chuck Lofgren and Jason Windsor.

[edit] Major Leagues

Micah Owings won a spot in the Arizona Diamondbacks starting rotation in spring training 2007. He made his first major league start on April 6th, pitching five scoreless innings and picking up the win against the Washington Nationals. Owings had a fine two-way game on August 18th. He went 4 for 4 with a double, two home runs, scored 4 runs and picked up 6 RBI in a 12-6 win over the Atlanta Braves. On the mound, he fanned 7 and allowed three hits (and 3 runs) in 7 innings. His .339 average in 2007 was the fourth-highest batting average by a pitcher in the DH era. This performance earned him a Silver Slugger Award. On the mound, he finished the year with a 8-8 record a 4.30 ERA and a 106-50 K/W ratio in 152 2/3 innings of work. In the postseason, he was used as pinch hitter in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the NLCS before getting the start in Game 4, which he lost.

Things did not go so well for Owings in 2008. He started the season well but began to suffer arm trouble as his ERA sky-rocketed. He was 6-9, 5.93 in 22 games when the Diamondbacks placed him on the disabled list. In September, he became the player to be named later in the trade that brought slugger Adam Dunn from Cincinnati to Arizona. He was still unable to pitch when he joined the Reds and was used exclusively as a pinch-hitter, going 2 for 4 with a double; overall for the year, he hit .288 with one home run in 56 at-bats. He was back in the Reds' starting rotation to open the 2009 season, while also being used as a pinch-hitter between starts. On May 10th, he hit a two-out pinch home run in the bottom of the 9th off the St. Louis Cardinals' Ryan Franklin in a game the Reds lost, 8-7, in 10 innings. It was the second pinch homer of his career, and both of them were dramatic: he had hit the first on April 30, 2008, against Dave Borkowski of the Houston Astros, a two-run game-tying shot in the 6th in a game the D-Backs won 8-7. He finished the year with a 7-12 record in 26 games, including 19 starts, and a 5.34 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio was particularly disappointing, at 68/64 in 119.2 innings.

Owings started the 2010 season in the Reds' bullpen, pitching 22 games with a record of 3-2, 5.40 and striking out over a batter per inning while essentially pitching in long relief. Still, on August 16th, he was designated for assignment when the Reds signed their top pick in the 2010 amateur draft, Yasmani Grandal, to a major league contract. The contract forced the Reds to open a spot on their major league roster, and Owings drew the short straw.

Owings signed with the Diamondbacks for the 2011 season. While still slated for a spot as a long reliever, his manager Kirk Gibson announced that he would try to maximize his contribution to the team by using him as a pinch-hitter more often, and possibily even as a first baseman. He began taking infield practice at first base during spring training in order to increase his value. He ended up making 33 appearances on the mound, including 4 starts, with a record of 8-0, 3.57 as the Diamondbacks surprised the baseball world by winning the NL West title. In the end, he only made one appearance as a pinch hitter and had only 19 at-bats, with 4 hits, given his work was primarily out of the bullpen. He pitched twice in the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers, one scoreless inning as the D-Backs lost Game 2, and then two more scoreless innings in Game 4 on October 5th, when he was credited with Arizona's 10-6 win that forced a decisive Game 5. He then signed with the San Diego Padres for 2012­, but pitched only 6 times, going 0-2, 2.79, before an arm injury put a term to his season at the end of April.

In 2013, Owings decided to change tack, signing a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals on February 5th as a first baseman, deciding to try his luck as a full-time hitter. At that point, his career major league batting average stood at .283, with a slugging percentage at .502 - excellent numbers for a player for which hitting had been mostly a sideline.

Sources: 2003-2007 Baseball Almanacs

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