Chris Owen

2018 Championship Tournament Preview: Barrel Bruisers

Roster: Jerry Hill, Tony Manelli, Chris Owen

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Playing Out Of: Alexandria, Virginia

2018 MAW Record: 3-15

Seed: #5

Signature Wins: vs. York Yaks 14-11 (4/14)

Versus Championship Tournament Teams: 1-10

First Game: vs. Lemon Heads

Why They Will Win It All:  Realistically, the odds are heavily stacked against the Bruisers. Short-handed all season, the club has struggled to put up wins and have limped into the Championship Tournament. Any team in any tournament has a shot at winning it all but the Bruisers chances in this tournament are admittedly rather slim.

But not all is lost! We may not be able to tell you exactly why the Barrel Bruisers will win it all, but we CAN tell you why they will throw a wrench – or even two – into the plans of their competitors.

Let's start with the Bruisers' Chris Owen. One-half of Owen’s eight starts this season have been quality ones against playoff and playoff-caliber teams. In four games spanning 14 innings versus the Cuban Raft Riders, Yaks, ERL, and G€M, Chris pitched to a 2.29 ERA and struck out 46% of the hitters he faced. Clearly Chris can shut down quality teams as long as he is able to command his breaking ball. If Owen has it all working for one game, the Bruisers could pull off an opening round upset.

Tony Manelli has several hits – including a pair of homers – off Championship Tournament pitchers and Jerry Hill is never an easy out. If teams aren’t careful, they could find themselves in the loser’s bracket or out of the tournament at the hands of the Bruisers.

Even in games in which they are ultimately defeated, the Bruisers could still cause trouble for their opening round opponents. The team has several narrow loses to Championship Tournament and playoff caliber teams this season including a total base loss to My Name is ERL and a walk off loss to the Yaks. Any team hoping to casually slip past the Bruisers will likely be forced to rethink that strategy sometime during the game. Although the record might not reflect it, this team is no easy out and will force their opponents to battle, particularly if Chris has command of his pitches.

Why They Won’t:  The Bruisers’ overall lack of offensive production this season and their inconsistent pitching will be their downfall. If Chris is on early and the Bruisers find themselves in the semi-finals, they will likely run out of pitching in short order.


The Scout #7: Chris Owen


When Alexandria, Virginia’s Barrel Bruisers first arrived in MAW last spring, most of the attention was on the team’s flame throwing ace Ryan Doeppel. This left the Bruisers’ second pitcher – Chris Owen – firmly in the shadows to the point of not even pitching in the first tournament. As the season progressed and Doeppel eventually left the Bruisers, Owen took on a more prominent role in the Bruisers’ rotation. Heading into 2018, he is poised to make the leap to dependable, multi-game tournament pitcher.

The tall right hander relies heavily on a big bending slider. The pitch improved steadily throughout the course of the 2017 MAW season and Owen continued to sharpen it during the CFOT Winter League. When commanded correctly, the pitch starts well behind the back of a right-handed hitter and sweeps all the way to the middle or even far-half of the target strike zone. Veteran Bill Owens – who has seen as many pitchers and pitches as anyone – commented last fall that it had been a long time since he had seen a big bending slider quite like Chris’. The movement and command of the pitch appear to improve when thrown at a moderate speed, but the athletic Owen has some velocity in reserve should he choose to call on it. In the CFOT winter league with a slightly shorter pitching distance, his velocity overwhelmed hitters on many occasions. Because of his size, he has a tendency to miss up with the pitch. If Owen can command the slider on a regular basis and move the pitch around the strike zone horizontally, he will be in line for a strong 2018. If he can find a consistent secondary offering, he has upper tier starter potential.

As a hitter, Owen feasted on lower level pitching last season but struggled at times against the mid-level and top-level pitchers in the region. Even when hits were hard to come by, Owen showed above average plate discipline and a willingness to take a free pass. His 49 walks last summer were third most in MAW behind his Bruiser teammate Jerry Hill (55) and the Stompers’ Paul Cooke (58). Although he only hit two homeruns in 2017, Owen has obvious power potential. Both of his homeruns last season came off Stompers’ left-hander Dan Isenberg. It will be interesting to see if that success translates to other southpaws as well.