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Owings extends hit streak to 22 games06/04/2013 2:37 AM ET
By Jake Seiner / Special to MLB.com
That Paul Goldschmidt is bolstering first base in Arizona with an OPS north of 1.000 is probably the most important thing he'll do for the D-backs' organization in 2013.
Somewhere a little further down on that list of contributions, there's a conversation he had with Arizona's No. 6 prospect, Chris Owings.
The Reno shortstop extended his current hitting streak to a Minor League-best 22 games in a 4-2 loss to Tucson on Monday, raising his average to .348 in his first Triple-A season. The 21-year-old homered and went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run, and he credited Goldschmidt after the game for helping create the mind-set that's driven him this season.
Owings has fairly consistently hit for average as he's climbed the Minor League ladder since being drafted in the first round (41st overall) in 2009. But approaching the .350 mark is uncharted territory for the native of Charleston, S.C.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has developed a more consistent routine -- something he said he developed in Spring Training this year partly due to a conversation he had with Goldschmidt while Owings was in Major League camp.
"I hit with Goldschmidt one time," Owings said. "He talked me through his routine a little bit, about how when things aren't working out, there's no reason to not keep doing what you're doing. Stick with it and things will turn around."
That routine -- consisting primarily of flip drills and a more focused batting practice -- has allowed Owings to become one of the Pacific Coast League's best pure hitters so far in 2013.
Owings extended his hitting streak in emphatic fashion. After grounding out in his first at-bat, the 21-year-old led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to right field. The blast was his fourth of the season after slugging 17 in 128 games across the Class A Advanced California and Double-A Southern leagues last season.
"I'm just trying to get fastballs for the most part," he said. "[Sean O'Sullivan] started me off with a slider away, then threw me a ball. Then he threw a fastball away and I just put a good swing on it. It ended up getting out."
He followed that with an RBI single to score Tony Campana in the fifth and added another single with two outs in the ninth. Matt Davidson followed that hit with another single, advancing Owings to third, but the shortstop was stranded at the hot corner when Juan Rivera grounded out to end the game.
Owings is hitting .351 during the 22-game hitting streak with four doubles, two homers, 17 runs and nine RBIs.
At 21, Owings still has areas of his game to improve. In particular, he's long boasted a highly aggressive approach and has walked just six times in 256 at-bats this season, including just one free pass during this hitting streak.
There's also the question of where Owings will play. The D-backs traded for a pair of shortstops in the offseason, including a high-profile trade for Cincinnati prospect Didi Gregorius, who immediately became Arizona's shortstop of the future.
Gregorius has emerged as a Rookie of the Year candidate and appears to have locked up the position long term, meaning if Owings is going to play every day in the Majors, it'll either be at another position or with another organization.
In the meantime, Owings, a solid defender at short, is willing to be the good soldier.
"I've been at shortstop in the Minors the whole time," he said. "Just because they went out and got a couple shortstops in the offseason, that doesn't affect me at all. I just have to do what I can do, the rest will handle itself."