In 2005, Blake Owen posted a 0.81 ERA at Belmont University. Together with his 13 saves, that was enough to garner him Atlantic Sun Conference All-Star honors. The Orioles were impressed enough to invest a 6th round pick in Owen and sway him away from his senior season with $135,000. Owen struggled out of the gate in his full season debut, but he showed the potential to move through the system fast in 2007.
DOB: 10/29/83 Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 B/T: R/R
Blake Owen's age 22 season:
Owen's repertoire begins with his fastball that sits at 90-93 MPH. It has good downward movement in the strike zone, but it is currently his only weapon against southpaws. Owen also throws a solid slider, but left-handers had an easy time picking it up. The movement on his fastball gets opponents to pound it into the ground, but it won't be enough at higher levels if he wants to be more than a right-handed specialist. Thus far, attempts to develop a usable changeup have been unsuccessful. Owen also throws a splitter on occasion, but it is a fringy pitch that may not be effective as he moves up. He has a big frame and has proven to be fairly rubber-armed in his brief professional career so far.
With just one plus pitch and another pitch that is only average against right-handers, Owen has work to do to reach his potential. If he can refine his straight changeup, he could quickly emerge as a viable multi-inning set-up man. Even if he doesn't, however, it won't be too long before he is neutralizing fellow right-handers in the majors. Owen will begin 2007 at the back end of High-A Frederick's bullpen and the Orioles will let him dictate his own timetable. His groundball tendencies will help him in the Orioles system's only hitter's haven and some believe he could see significant time in Double-A Bowie before the season is up.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com