The Most Valuable Player of the most offensively-charged minor league, the Pacific Coast League, may be joining the Arizona Diamondbacks next month.
Not surprisingly, shortstop Chris Owings of the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate, will likely be among the host of call-ups general manager Kevin Towers summons, beginning tomorrow, when major league rosters expand for the final month of the season.
Owings also captured his league’s Rookie of the Year award this season, joining a pair of PCL alumni who also secured both awards in the same season, including the Diamondbacks’ Adam Eaton, who accomplished the feat last season.
The 22-year-old South Carolina native managed a .327 batting average in 122 games with Reno this season, accruing 77 RBI and 48 extra-base hits. He added a .355 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage to his spectacular season, which included a career-high 17 stolen bases.
Owings was one of three Diamondbacks prospects to be selected to a Futures Game roster, competing for the U.S. team on the Sunday prior to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, along with infielder Matt Davidson and pitcher Archie Bradley.
Despite his lower level successes, however, many wondered if Owings would join the big league team before the end of the season, considering the current roster presence of shortstops Didi Gregorius, Cliff Pennington and Willie Bloomquist.
“He’s a guy who has had a great year,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said prior to Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants. “He’s been here many years and he’s a guy that you talk about bringing up (as) it would be really good to reward him.”
Last season, the Diamondbacks did just that with 2012 PCL MVP Eaton, who made his major league debut on September 4.
But more than just a reward, Gibson values the big league exposure September call-ups receive.
“It would be good for him to get up here and get the exposure like he’s earned it,” the manager said.
He continued, “(That way) we get to work with him a little bit. He gets to watch the other guys. He gets to be around Bloomquist, Pennington, Didi, Aaron Hill. You know — he’s played some second base down there.
“You know, even if you’re sitting on the bench, you can watch other players that you’re (competing) against.”
Gibson later specified on a potential timeline for the prospect’s big league debut.
“If he came, he’d be a later (call-up),” he explained.
“He’s got a pretty good future ahead of him and he’ll fit in here somewhere, sometime, someway, somehow.”