Updated Feb 13, 2014 - 5:47 pm
A 'more polished' Chris Owings looks to take next step with Arizona Diamondbacks
For Chris Owings, there is very little left for him to prove at the minor league level.
"He looks like a big leaguer," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Owings, 22, got a taste of the major leagues late last year as a September call-up. In 91 plate appearances, he hit .291 with five multi-hit games in 13 starts.
It was a reward for the year Owings had with the Reno Aces, where he was named both Rookie of the Year and MVP of the Pacific Coast League after hitting .330 with 12 home runs, 81 RBI and 104 runs scored in 125 games.
With his locker stall placed among veterans Eric Chavez, Martin Prado and Mark Trumbo, Owings fits in well within the Diamondbacks clubhouse at Salt River Fields. This is his fourth big league camp.
"Even getting called up last year, I felt really comfortable knowing a lot of the guys and knowing the coaching staff. That carries over to this year, too," he said Thursday.
After five seasons in the minors, Owings believes he's ready to take that next step up to the Major League level.
"You can't compare the experience level from spring training to getting that experience in September," he said. "It helps me get some confidence knowing that I've been there."
Because of his play, Owings has been given the opportunity to compete, not only for a spot on the 25-man roster, but a starting spot at shortstop.
"For me, it really doesn't change my mentality. I just try to be the best player I can be," he said. "I'm setting a high standard for myself. Every camp that I've been here—just trying to get better and watch guys, learn from everybody."
The shortstop competition among Owings, Didi Gregorius and Cliff Pennington figures to be one of the more interesting battles in spring training.
"He's always been a confident kid," Gibson said of Owings, selected in the first round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. "I think he's a lot more polished. He's got good work habits, good routine. He's bought into it all. He's right there."
What might help put Owings in the majors for good is his versatility. During the workout on Thursday, he rotated between shortstop and second base, a position he played growing up and actually made three starts at following his call-up last season.
The Diamondbacks like guys who are capable of playing more than one position. It gives what Gibson and GM Kevin Towers have often referred to as "roster flexibility."
"Wherever they want me to play, I'll be there," Owings said. "We'll see what happens."
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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