The Arizona Diamondbacks resolved their situation at shortstop on Saturday, with Didi Gregorius being set to the minors to start the season and Chris Owings being named the starter. Trade rumors surrounding Gregorius may now be turned up a notch with his demotion, and if he is dealt that would only further cement Owings’ spot in the every day lineup for Arizona.
Is Owings now a solid option for fantasy baseball owners?
Owings made his major league debut last September after posting a slash-line of .330/.359/.482 with 12 home runs, 81 RBI, 20 stolen bases and 104 runs scored for Triple-A Reno, and he hit .291 with five RBI and two steals over 55 at-bats for the Diamondbacks after being called up. Arizona seemed committed to him as their starting shortstop throughout the spring, and Saturday’s news looked inevitable as long as Owings stayed healthy.
Owings has posted double-digit home runs and steals in each of his last three minor league seasons, and his contact rate jumped to 82 percent in 2013 from 75 percent the previous season. He doesn’t take many walks (22 over 575 plate appearances in Triple-A last season), but there’s room for improvement there at age 22 and if he has a spot toward the top of Arizona’s lineup Owings will be in position to score plenty of runs.
Owners in NL-only leagues that used a late draft pick on Owings now look smart for doing so, and he is worth adding in that format for owners that have an injury-prone starter at shortstop (Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki). Mixed league owners should take a wait-and-see approach here, but if Owings gets off to a nice start his ownership percentage (12 percent in Yahoo! leagues) may rise very quickly.