Pittsburgh Pirates President Doesn’t Understand Snub


Pirates President Frank Coonelly

always seems to be cool, calm, and collected.   So at PirateFest, it was pretty cool to see Pirates President Frank Coonelly get about as fired up as we have ever seen him.  Now remember fired up is relative with Coonelly.  Still it was great to see.

And even better for you, we had a video camera rolling to capture all the action.  The reason behind Coonelly getting on a roll?

Frank loves him some Rudy Owens.

He especially loves Owens because it seems few others are showing their appreciation for what Owens has done in the minor leagues the past two seasons.  Coonelly brought up the comparision with a player who gets much more acclaim from the baseball pundits–Kyle Drabek.

To us it seems three things got under Coonelly’s skin when it comes to Owens.

Number one is why numerous prospect rankings failed to even recognize the skills and production from Owens.  This seemed to generally shock Coonelly and it was easy to tell it pissed him off.

Number two, as Coonelly said, “somehow Kyle Drabek won the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.”  He said this in a respectful manner, but it’s very obvious he wasn’t happy about it.    Some say Drabek earned the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year award because of his dominance.  He has been described as a power pitcher.  So if Drabek is dominant what is your perception of Owens?

You better take a close look at this, because it surprised us.

Drabek had a 2.94 ERA  while Owens bested him with a 2.46.  Drabek ranked first in wins with 14 while Owens had 12.  Drabek was off to bigger and better by the time Owens and the Curve won the EL Championship.  Drabek finished third in ERA and was also tied for third in strikeouts.  Owens whiffed 132 hitters over 150 innings while Drabek pitched 12 more innings, but ended up with the same number of strikeouts as Owens-132 .

Drabek held the opposition to a .215 batting average to lead the EL  while Owens dominated in walk rate with a mere 1.4 while Drabek had a 3.8BB/9.  It’s impressive stuff for Owens and certainly makes baseball fans scratch their heads after taking a look at the impressive numbers the 22-year old perm rocking, left hander put up last year.

Lastly, Coonelly took responsibility by stating the Pirates must do a better job of promoting talented players within their system like Owens.  One thing rings clear, Coonelly could get the last laugh if Owens continues to produce and there is no reason to think Owens will let the Pirates down if he continues to develop his pitches.

Check it out for yourself:

So what’s the deal?  Why do you think Drabek gets the love?   Is it because he has five pitches while Owens is still working on a few of his, or is it simply like Coonelly said and the Bucs must do a better job to build some hype around their prospects?  Check out some of the recent rankings below.

MLB Top 50–Owens is absent.

Keith Law’s Top 100 has Drabek at number 12 while Owens is absent. Law was kind enough to place Owens as number five in the Pirates organization.

Is it because Owens was a draft and follow while Drabek was a first round pick? Is it because Drabek’s ‘upside’ is just insanely better than Owens? Is it hype?  Drabek pitched 17 innings in the majors last year.  Does that prove he is the better talent?  You tell me.

The Pirates protected Owens from being over used last year. This season the Pirates will be able to reach into AAA for pitching assistance instead of plucking pitchers, like Dana Eveland, from the scrap heap (hat tip to Leadoff.) Not overusing their arms last season despite winning a AA Championship will loom large for the Pirates in 2011.  Remember this video?

Take a look at the stats of Owens and Drabek  from Baseball Reference below.  It’s rather easy to argue that Frank Coonelly has a strong case.

Clipped from: web.minorleaguebaseball.com (share this clip)