HUNTER OWEN, THIRD BASEMAN
|Born: September 22, 1993
Drafted: 25th Round, 765th Overall, 2016
How Acquired: Draft
College: Indiana State University
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Owen wasn’t a regular at Indiana State until his senior year, although he red-shirted his first year and has a year of eligibility left. He was easily the team’s best hitter, posting a 350/430/537 line. His BB:K ratio was just OK at 20:36 in 226 ABs. His OBP was helped by 15 hit batsmen. Owen hit well his junior season also, with a 344/400/542 line, but he started fewer than half the team’s games. He played very little as a sophomore. Owen’s first name was listed as “Stephen” when he was drafted, but he goes by “Hunter.”
Owen was the primary left fielder for Morgantown, and also started a game at second and five at third. That last experiment didn’t go well, as he had five errors in the five games. Owen got off to a fast start at the plate and was hitting .319 with five HRs in 91 ABs as late as July 23. He hit .198 with no HRs in 96 ABs after that. Possibly, the pitchers caught on to his lack of patience, as he had poor walk and K rates throughout. He struggled against LHPs, with just a .585 OPS.
The Pirates moved Owen to third base and he played regularly there for West Virginia. He had his issues defensively, not surprisingly, with 16 errors in 81 starts. On July 17, he got his only start of the year in the outfield, possibly in preparation for moving up to Bradenton to replace Logan Hill, who’d been promoted to Altoona. As luck would have it, Owen suffered a hamstring injury in that game and was out until the very end of the season. Owen had a good year for the Power, hitting for good power and getting on base a lot, thanks in part to getting hit by a pitch 24 times. That was seven more than all but one other player in the league, even though Owen missed nearly half his team’s games. (The one other player missed nearly two-thirds of the games, so he must have had a very rough year.) Owen missed time briefly at a couple of points as a result of the plunkings. On the season he had the exact same OPS against LHPs and RHPs. Anyway, Owen’s numbers have to be taken in context, as he played the entire season at age 23, which is old for the level.
Owen got off to a very rough start, struggling through the first two months, before getting hot for the last three. His monthly OPS was as follows:
Owen hit 12 of his 18 home runs in the last two months, finishing tied for third in the FSL in longballs. The big caveats, of course, were that he played the season at age 24, which is old for the level, and he showed very little patience at the plate. He had a reverse platoon split. Owen primarily played third, but he actually started only a little over half of the team’s games there. He served as a DH in over a quarter of his starts and also played three games as catcher, an experiment that the Pirates started in spring training.
Owen adapted quickly to AA and was the best hitter in the Eastern League during the first half of the season. If he hadn’t been promoted to AAA halfway through the year, he’d have led the league easily in SLG and OPS. Of course, the very bad plate discipline and the fact that he was 26 were red flags. Owen’s impatient approach didn’t play well at Indianapolis and he struggled through the second half. He batted just .152 in August, although he may have been affected by a hand injury that resulted from being hit by a pitch. He continued playing third regularly at Altoona, but with Ke’Bryan Hayes in Indianapolis he spent most of his time at first or in the outfield corners.
Owen was the primary third baseman at Indianapolis, although he also saw time at first and in the outfield corners. He struggled early in the season, but finished strongly, with an OPS of .853 in August and .872 in September. He continued to hit for good power with a lot of strikeouts and not many walks. The Pirates called Owen up when Gregory Polanco went on the injured list due to COVID-related isues. He got five plate appearances and then was returned to the alternate site.
Owen went back to Indianapolis but, a week into May, suffered a hamstring injury. He didn’t return until September.
Owen is eligible for minor league free agency now, so it’s unlikely he’ll return.
|2022: Minor league salary
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2016
MLB Debut: 5/5/2021
MiLB FA Eligible: 2022
MLB FA Eligible: 2027
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 5/4/2021 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.012
|June 11, 2016: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 25th round, 765th overall pick; signed on June 16.
May 4, 2021: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
May 11, 2021: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AAA on May 15.