by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Portland Press Herald.
The Pittsburgh Pirates own the #1 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, which is scheduled for July 9th-July 11th in Seattle, WA. This draft could be the final piece of GM Ben Cherington’s puzzle to catapult the Bucs into a yearly contender.
In the next few weeks, Draft 412 will showcase the top prospects coming out in 2023.
Name- Hunter Owen
HT/WT- 6’6” 261 lbs.
Home – South Portland, ME
Hunter Owen is a prospect who has so much potential, but red flags persist. Can he handle the rigors of being a starting pitcher at the next level?
Owen was a 3-sport star at South Portland High School, playing baseball, basketball and football. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year for Maine his junior season by going 5-0 with 76 strikeouts in 40 innings and a .17 ERA. His senior season was cut short by Covid-19, and he decided to go to Vanderbilt rather than try and go pro.
Hunter Owen is one of the largest prospects in this draft at 6’6” and 261 lbs. and is athletic for his size. A relief pitcher his first two seasons at Vandy, he transitioned nicely to a starter last year. Yet Owen struggled to throw strikes in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt, and his numbers took a hit. He had a 10.26 ERA in his freshman season, walking 15 in 16.2 innings.
After making some mechanical adjustments before his junior season, Owen seemed to find the strike zone and revved his fastball up to 97 mph. He was 4-0 in 12 starts and struck out 76 hitters in 64 innings.
But question marks arose during the season as he missed 4 out of 6 starts down the stretch with tired arm syndrome and later, missed the last two months of last season with unknown ailments.
Owen has a good, repeatable delivery which leads Draft 412 to believe he could be a durable pitcher. His fastball sits between 93-94 and has topped out at 97 mph. He has an upper 70’s curveball and a slider that sits in the mid-80’s, having a “swing and miss” break to it. He also has worked on a low-70’s changeup that eventually could give him a 4-pitch-arsenal.
The fact that Owen does not have a long track record as a starting pitcher could be an issue for some general managers. He has been out of the lineup the past two seasons, and the tired arm prognosis is a definite worry. With only 12 collegiate starts to go on, some scouts may not look at Owen as a surefire first round pick.
Watching some film on Owen, it was tough to get a comparison at first, but after Draft 412 dove into it, he flashes a little bit of a poor-man’s Madison Bumgarner in the way he uses his slider and curveball. Owen throws from a different arm slot than Bumgarner, but has a lot of his mannerisms.
Hunter Owen has a high ceiling but also has some risk. He may be best served as a relief pitcher and should go late first/early second.
Round late 1st/ 2nd round, #40 on the Draft 412 list.