The Rays are an organization that prides itself on roster efficiency. A large part of that is the versatility the Rays have featured on their roster- starting with Ben Zobrist and continuing with players like Sean Rodriguez and Jeff Keppinger moving all around the infield. But when you’re talking roster efficiency, you can’t do any better than what Micah Owings is trying to become.
“I really want to see what I can do. I have an idea. I think it would maybe take some creativity for a team to accept it. But if it worked, it might create an entirely new position in baseball, a position that would give a team an extra player.”
Owings, who turned 30 in September, has a 4.86 ERA (91 ERA+) in 138 major league appearances, 68 starts, striking out 6.5 batters per 9 innings, walking 3.9, and allowed 1.2 homers per 9 innings. He was a mediocre pitcher- but he always stood out most for his hitting. Owings was the NL Silver Slugger at pitcher in 2007, hitting .333 with 7 doubles, 4 homers, and 15 RBI. For his career, he has a .283/.310/.502 line with 14 doubles, 9 homers, and 35 RBI in 219 plate appearances. Talking to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Owings has decided to make hitting a bigger part of his game- but not taking pitching out of the equation entirely. Owings has decided to become a “position player/pitcher” who would be able to see time at first base and the outfield while also appearing as a middle reliever. Owings had surgery on his elbow to remove bone chips back in April and started seeing time at positions other than at pitcher. Owings went 4 for 9 with a double at the Padres’ Triple-A Tuscon in 2012, and right now he is listed as an outfielder on the Gigantes de Carolina in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in Puerto Rico and went 0 for 3 with a walk in his first game. Owings has a lot of work he needs to do- once he’s a position player, opposing pitchers won’t underestimate him when he comes to the plate because he’s a pitcher. He also needs to get his arm healthy and return to pitching. But Owings has shown solid bat speed and good power, and while it’s a stretch to think he will ever receive regular playing time as a position player, between his ability as a power-hitting bat and as a halfway-decent middle reliever, he has the ability to be a productive major league player. Will he get a shot this offseason to prove himself as a two-way player in spring training, at Triple-A, and maybe at some point in the big leagues? If there’s any team that will, it’s the Rays. Their emphasis on roster efficiency and their need for a first base/DH type makes Owings an interesting fit for them. They were willing to use right-hander Chris Archer as a pinch-runner in 2012 and a player like Owings could be the next logical step. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Owings and whether his all-around ability as a hitter and pitcher could change baseball forever.