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Owings off to fast start; leads rookies in many offensive categories

Chris Owings continues to impress with offensive skills.
Chris Owings continues to impress with offensive skills.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Wherever he has played, Chris Owings put up “big numbers.”

Now at the major league level, why should this stop? No reason, Owings would say, and he continues to impress.

Now, the Diamondbacks’ shortstop is quietly mentioned in rookie honors but that talk is clearly premature and the season is just past the one-third mark.

Though Owings shared the shortstop duties with Didi Gregorius in the opening two games of the season in Australia, the Arizona management had a clear vision that Owings would be the every-day starter.

Coming into Tuesday afternoon’s game with Houston at home, Owings has appeared in 59 of the D-backs’ 66 games and also includes compromising playing time with Cliff Pennington, who is currently on the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his left thumb.

For now, Owings continues to be a leader in several offensive categories among rookies and approaches his craft with sound judgment and intelligence.

“I don’t get too high or too low,” he said of his approach. “My aim is to get good at-bats each time up and hit the ball hard.”

Seems fairly simple and Owings has emerged as dependable and reliable.

“He’s come a long way since arriving here as a 18, 19 year-old,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “He’s smart, energetic, and a great attitude about the process. Though I want to get Gregorius more involved, (Owings) is our shortstop.”

A quick look at the leader board shows his production and value.

In games through Monday, Owings is leading National League rookies in batting average, extra base hits, multi-hit games, total bases, hits, slugging percentage and doubles and tied in triples. As well, he is second among National League rookies in runs scored, home runs, runs batted in and on-base percentage. Owings is also third among NL rookies in walks and third in stolen bases.

Last season in winning the Pacific Coast League rookie-of-the year and PCL most valuable player awards, Owings ended the season with a .330 average with 31 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs, 81 RBIs, 104 runs scored and 20 stolen bases in 125 games. Owings also collected the PCL-best 23-game hitting streak in 2013.

“Look, I’m not going to hit .330 all the time and I try and carry over good at-bats,” he said. “Really, my goal is just to continue what I’ve done and improve on that.”

Signed by the Diamondbacks in the 2009 supplemental first-round (41 overall), Owings complied an aggregate minor league average of .291 over the course of five years and hit an exact .291 when called up by Arizona last September in 20 games at the major league level.

Given Owings’ discipline and baseball acumen, it’s clear to see his tendencies are recognized.

“He has great habits,” Gibson pointed out. “He wants to learn and trusts the coaching staff.”

All of which seems to point Owings on his way for more accolades in the future.

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