Q&A with Henry Owens

A Rule V selection last December from the Pittsburgh Pirates, right-hander Henry Owens impressed the Mets organization with a 3.15 ERA at Class-A St. Lucie in 2005 and represented the club in the Arizona Fall League. He talked recently with Inside Pitch's Bryan Hoch from Puerto Rico, where he is playing winter ball with Caguas.

This was your first year in the Mets farm system. Looking back on the season, what are some of your reflections?

It was very good from a developmental standpoint. I was able to get a lot of work in and made some strides that needed to be made. [I had] quality and consistency with my slider, improved command and the beginning of a third pitch, a split-finger which I'm working on.

Were you satisfied with the way your numbers turned out at St. Lucie?

There was a lot of good to take from the season, but there are still things that need to be ironed out and polished. I believe I'm getting that here in winter ball, and plan on continue doing it the end of my career. I don't think the learning process ever ends.

Could you see any differences between the Mets and Pirates farm systems?

There wasn't too big of a difference. Both had quality instructors and quality people making all the calls and giving me instruction through the levels. I couldn't really pinpoint too much of a difference between the two.

We know by speaking with people in the Mets organization that they're very high on you and the progress you made this year. Have you had any sense of that as the winter has gone along?

I think they did their speaking by putting me on the 40-man roster. Toward the end of the season I really sensed an appreciation and contentment with the strides that I was making. They had a lot of strides throughout the year and continued to support me and help me throughout the year. It was definitely helpful.

Were you surprised to be taken in the Rule V Draft a year ago?

When I was left unprotected by the Pirates, I really wasn't surprised I was taken. I was surprised I was left unprotected, but I understood it from their standpoint – my 2004 season was injury-plagued, and I could understand the Pirates making the decision they made.

I know you didn't pitch that much in the Arizona Fall League – you went out there late after they had an injury – but what did you take from the experience?

That was a great league. It seemed like every time a hitter stepped to the plate, that hitter had the potential to cause a lot of damage. It wasn't like a letdown was possible – not that it is any other time, but every time a batter stepped to the plate it was a quality hitter. You're challenged and focused every single pitch, and it was nice to be surrounded by very talented players, because it helps you step up your game.

What did you think about some of your Mets teammates out in Arizona?

I had a great time out there. I thought they were a great group of guys to be around and I definitely had a lot of fun with them. We definitely kept it light-hearted but we were able to get our work done in a professional manner.

Specifically, let's talk a little about Lastings Milledge. You've watched this kid all year long, between St. Lucie and again out in Arizona. What's it like to watch him run around and do his thing?

Lastings is a fun player to watch. He's very talented and very young. He's exciting, and he's also a great guy to be around as well. He's a quality player. He's obviously been blessed with good speed and he's able to get to a lot of balls some other outfielders might not get to. He's a good player to have out there for you.

Can you give me an example of a guy you played with this year who isn't being talked about, but probably should be?

A guy that I played with this year who I don't see mentioned too much is Eddie Camacho. He's a left-handed reliever with us and did most of the closing, and he's a quality reliever – throws a lot of strikes, keeps hitters off-balance with his change-up and I think he's got a bright future. That's one guy I can throw out there.

Do you have any sense from the organization as to where you might expect to begin the 2006 season?

I really don't. I'm just working hard over here, trying to do my best and go into spring training, hoping to just continue to pitch my game and improve. We'll see what happens.