Here is Part Two of InsidePitchMagazine.com's Q&A session with Mets Pitching Coordinator Rick Waits.…
Owen Working on Command
After 37 career starts across Brooklyn and St. Lucie during his first two seasons, Owen piled up victories, strikeouts and distinction as he won numerous awards along the way. However, when he was promoted to Binghamton he ran into the aforementioned issue of control and precision against Eastern League hitters.
Owen was sharp in his first outing, picking up the victory as he gave up only one earned run on six hits in six innings. However, in his final two starts, the hits, walks and runs allowed all increased as he went 0-1 with a 7.83 ERA with 14 hits and seven walks given up in 10 1/3 innings pitched. It was not difficult for Owen to pinpoint the difference.
"I don't know if I was doing something different with my arm or with my hands, but when I got to Binghamton my two-seam fastball started moving all over the plate," he said.
"But when I was in Florida it was more of a sinker down and in, but in Binghamton it was moving so much. I switched to my four-seam fastball after that but my two-seam is something I'll have to work on."
"It could have been that I was pushing it off my fingers differently, but I've got to work on finishing out in front and on top of the pitch because sometimes I find myself getting on the side of it which makes the pitch run away from me," he continued.
Despite ranking in the top five in the league in strikeouts with Brooklyn in 2007 and St. Lucie this year, Owen is a command pitcher. The effectiveness of his pitchers is based on his ability to find the proper grip and that was pertinent to not only his two-seam fastball but his changeup as well.
While in Binghamton, his changeup stayed up in the zone and was not a strong tandem pitch off his fastball; a concept communicated to him by pitching Coach Ricky Bones.
"I'm a feel pitcher. I've got to find the grip that's really comfortable for me. I kind of had the changeup grip that worked for me earlier this year but it got away from me."
"Some games its there, some games it's not. I really want to have it where it's a good pitch off my fastball and that's what the coaches are working on with me. I need to be able to throw it more consistently to have more success at Double-A for sure."
But his success in Double-A will ultimately come back to his fastball consistency. His four-seam fastball usually sits 88-90 MPH, making it even more important that he recover his two-seamer which sinks down and in to right-handers when thrown properly.
"I need to know that I can still throw my fastball when I'm behind in the count and start with my fastball so that I can throw my other pitches when I've put the batter behind in the count. That was the most important thing I worked on," he explained.
In just about two weeks however, Owen got in a tremendous amount of work with Ricky Bones that helped build confidence for when he likely does return to Binghamton next season.
"I had a good year, but I went through a lot of the troubles pitchers go through during their first professional season. I'm glad I went through that this year instead of down the road so now I can look ahead and do better next year in my second professional season. I'm going to work hard and try to come out on top a little bit better."
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