I'll admit I was having a little trouble keeping all of Jeff Luhnow's trade acquisitions straight in my head at first, but when I saw this late July tweet with Rudy and his friend Ted in their matching T-Shirts, he no longer blended in with the rest of the pack (pun intended).
Coming in to the 2012 season, Baseball America had him ranked as the #16 top prospect in the Pirates organization while Jonathan Mayo had him ranked at #12 at the time of the July 2012 trade which sent him to the Astros (along with LHP Colton Cain and OF Robbie Grossman) for LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Owens suffered from shoulder fatigue and reduced velocity in 2011 after being named Pirates minor league pitcher of the year in the two prior seasons.
In 2012, Owens made 19 starts for AAA Indianapolis in the International League, going 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.168 WHIP before the trade. After the trade, he went 2-3 in eight starts for AAA Oklahoma City with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.268 WHIP.
I connected with Rudy via email and here is what he had to say ~
WTH: Can you tell me about your pitch repertoire? Also, how is your velocity overall since you were shut down with a tired shoulder in 2011?
WTH: Since I haven't seen you pitch yet, tell me what I will see on the mound when I do see you pitch.
RO: I am a fast working pitcher and I throw a lot of strikes. I don't strike many people out because I don't have over powering stuff, but I get a lot of contact. I would consider myself as a fly ball pitcher, but I am in the process of working on that by throwing my sinker a lot more.
WTH: I would imagine that getting traded away from the Pirates organization after playing for them for so many years had to be difficult. How did the transition go? Do you think your opportunities are better with the Astros or about the same?
RO: Yeah, getting traded was a little weird getting used to. I think the hardest part about it was leaving all of the friends I have made over the years and the close relationships I had with my teammates and coaches that I had been with for so long. It's hard to say about the opportunities because I still never got called up in September so it was a bit frustrating, but I am looking forward to going to Spring Training in 2013 and ready to win a spot in the rotation.
WTH: I've wanted to interview you ever since I saw your road trip tweets with Ted and the matching Wolf T-shirts. When looking into your history for this interview, I also found a picture of the perm you sported back in 2010 and read about the perm hat giveaway the next season. How do I put this? Are you funny, crazy or a little bit of both?
RO: (hahaha) I don't want to be a self proclaimed funny guy but I like to have a lot of fun and don't really care what people think about me when it comes to having a good time. I wouldn't consider myself boring by any means. And don't worry, the perm will be coming back. This last year was the first time I haven't done the perm since 2008 so I need to get back on it. Maybe it will give me that extra little edge that I need.
WTH: I know you haven't been in the organization very long, but of your fellow Astros pitchers that you've seen so far, who has a pitch you'd like to steal?
RO: I don't know. I would have to say anyone with feel of their breaking ball (haha) because I have a hard time with it, but it is getting there.
WTH: What would you do if you couldn't play baseball?
RO: I'll go back to school and probably do something with physical fitness, but I'll be playing baseball until I'm all old and gray.
WTH: How are you spending your off-season?
RO: I am spending the off-season in Arizona with my family.
WTH: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?
RO: Sometimes when I get bored and sitting around the house I will pull out my cross-stitch and work on it. I have been cross-stitching for about 5 years since my mom taught me how. I became interested in it because I was always sitting around the house bored during the off season so it was something to occupy my time. It is very time consuming and addicting once you get started.
Thank you for your time, Rudy, and good luck in the 2013 season. I hope to see you in Houston at some point during the season. I think a 6'3" 230 lb. cross-stitching lefty with a perm and a teddy bear with a matching wolf T-shirt is just what the Astros fans need!