We kicked off our 2021 Prospect Profile series with a top 10 prospect outfielder, so next, we’ll pick from the back-end of Atlanta’s rankings and profile 26th ranked right-hand pitcher, Tyler Owens.
Again, be sure to check out the site’s 2021 Top 30 Prospect List, as well as my write-up on potential under-the-radar prospects for the upcoming season. My first prospect profile is also linked below:
- 2021 Braves Top 30 Prospect Rankings
- Potential risers and under-the-radar prospects for 2021
- Braves 2021 Prospect Profile: No. 9 Michael Harris
#26. Tyler Owens, RHP
- 5’10”, 185 lbs.
- 13th RD / 2019 MLB Draft
The Braves prospect industry seems a bit torn on Owens at the moment as some believe he’ll develop into a high-leverage reliever, while others see real starter potential. With him just turning 20 this month, it’s obviously too early in his development to know for sure either way. FanGraphs had Owens ranked 29th in their final 2020 prospect rankings, though the guys at Talking Chop evidently see more in him, slotting him at no. 16 in their 2021 rankings last week. We here at SportsTalkATL are still in wait-and-see mode, but a strong ’21 season should result in more confidence.
Don’t let Owens’ late draft selection fool you. Taken all the way back in the 13th round of the 2019 draft, the Braves threw big money (nearly $550K) at Owens to keep him from playing college ball. And judging by his play during his first pro season, Atlanta made the right decision.
Like most teenage draftees, Owens began his career in the GCL two seasons ago but only lasted four innings in the lowest rookie level, earning one start and one relief appearance, posting a 2.25 ERA to go along with four strikeouts and just one walk. By mid-July, Owens was promoted to the Appy League, where he played out the rest of the year with the Advanced-Rookie Danville Braves.
Owens’ first Danville start didn’t go too well as he allowed three runs in just 1.2 innings on the way to a loss, but from there, he managed three consecutive starts without surrendering more than a run, pitching to a 1.74 ERA and striking out 13 batters in that 10.1-inning span. However, the good vibes didn’t last, and Owens was roughed up in his next pair of starts, combining to allow eight runs over 4.2 innings. Regardless, he finished 2019 strong, making a couple of scoreless starts and ending the year with a respectable 4.63 ERA in Danville, featuring 10.8 strikeouts per nine but a bloated 4.2 walks per nine.
Overall, Owens put together a solid first year. A 4.28 ERA in 27 innings across the two rookie levels is nothing to be ashamed about, especially for an 18-year-old used to facing high school hitters. In fact, Owens showed an advanced feel on the mound, displaying solid strikeout stuff with 10.5 strikeouts per nine overall.
In terms of whether he winds up a reliever or starter, the deciding factor for Owens is if he can develop true secondaries to compliment his high-90s MPH fastball. Coming into the 2019 draft, it was reported that not only was his heater a strength but that he also wielded a plus-slider. Those two offerings make for a solid major league reliever. However, a third pitch will be required if he wishes to crack the Braves starting rotation one day.
In a March profile piece by TC’s Wayne Cavadi, it was said that Owens was working on a changeup to add to his repertoire but that the pitch was still quite a ways off from being usable. How he improves upon that offering in 2021 should be a useful indicator of which direction Owens’ is headed. A solid three-pitch mix means real starter potential is a possibility.