Game 47, Astros at Mariners
King Felix vs. Rudy Owens, 7:10pm
So we’ve got a pitcher making his major league debut tonight, a hurler who came up through the Pittsburgh system, studiously avoiding the Cactus League and the Arizona Fall league, ensuring that there’s absolutely no pitch fx data to look at. That’s too bad, because scouts were somewhat divided on Owens’ velocity and stuff – it’d be great to have some data to settle that debate.
Owens, a lefty, was a late-round draft pick in 2006 who moved steadily up the chain in the Pittsburgh system thanks to extremely low walk rates. Looking back at his line, it’s tough to know how to see him – great control, but occasional bouts of ineffectiveness. Like he was able to keep the ball in the zone, but unable to prevent hitters from punishing him for keeping the ball in the zone. Moving over to Houston in the Wandy Rodriguez deal, he got knocked around in his first taste of the PCL. He started back in Oklahoma City again last year, but had a foot injury that required season-ending surgery after just 17 innings. This year was his third go-round in OKC, and familiarity hasn’t improved the raw results. PCL hitters are hitting over .300 against him, leading to an ERA over 6 despite the still sterling walk rate and an extremely low HR rate. He’s not overpowering, and he’s been a bit of a fly ball pitcher over the course of his career. Thanks to a solid change-up, he’s run reverse platoon splits in the minors, though this is purely the result of HRs. You’ve got to assume he’d run fairly average splits in the majors, but the minor league record’s a sign that his change is probably his best pitch. If he had a good slider/curve, you’d assume he’d have a better K rate against same-handed hitters, but I’m just guessing at this point.
1: James Jones, CF
2: Stefen Romero, DH
3: Cano, 2B
4: Smoak, 1B
5: Seager, 3B
6: Gillespie, RF
7: Ackley, LF
8: Zunino, C
9: Bloomquist, SS
SP: King Felix
Taijuan Walker threw a simulated game today at Safeco, and Ryan Divish has some video of it here, and he quotes Walker as saying he’s ready to head out on a rehab start.
Speaking of rehab starts, James Paxton will start for Tacoma tomorrow at Cheney in the Rainiers double-header against El Paso.
Today’s MiLB starters include Erasmo Ramirez, Tyler Pike, Carlos Misell and Victor Sanchez. Pike and Sanchez were consensus top-10 Mariner prospects heading into 2014, but their stock has fallen a bit thus far. Sanchez missed time due to injury, and he’s been homer prone. After yielding four HRs over 113 innings last year for Clinton, he’s given up five just since coming back from the DL – over the course of just 13 2/3 innings. He’s just 19 and in AA, so he’s still a good prospect, but it’s a less-than-ideal line. Pike, as I’ve talked about frequently, has suffered from control lapses in the California League, as his K:BB ratio is currently 32:31. That said, he’s avoided a lot of damage – he’s had 9 starts on the year, and he’s given up 2 or fewer runs in 6 of them. Sure, the ERA isn’t pretty, as he’s given up plenty of runs in two disaster starts, but it’s High Desert. Still, a dead even K:BB ratio isn’t what we wanted to see.