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  • Writer's pictureSteve Potter

8/27/21 : 2021 Paul Owens Award Possibilities

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

The Paul Owens Award was instituted in 1986, and is named for the late Paul Owens, who spent 48 years in the Phillies organization as a scout, farm director, general manager, manager and senior advisor. Each year, the Philadelphia Phillies recognize the organization's top minor league player and pitcher, awarding both of them the Paul Owens Award.

In years past the award recipients and their families have been brought to Philadelphia for a night at the ballpark, of course that was when minor league seasons concluded at the end of August, this year the clubs will play thru most of September. While it may be a bit early to “nominate” potential 2021 award winners here’s this observer’s view on which players would seem to be in the running. 🤔

I will post in two parts … first pitchers and then position players … here goes

Pitcher of the Year

LHP Brian Marconi - no one has been more consistent this season than the 24 year old closer for Reading. He’s posted 11 saves in 12 opportunities to date between Jersey Shore and Reading ( promoted on May 16th ) and has a 2.00 ERA in 32 appearances ( 45 IP ) with a 1.09 WHIP. Brian has struck out 57 batters and walked 22, opponents are hitting a meager .176 against him and have an equally impressive low .284 OBP.

He’s not a “big arm” by definition of velocity but his ability to hide the baseball in his delivery and the angle on which the ball crosses the plate frankly just misses bats or induces predominately soft contact. Aaron Loup has had similar success for the New York Mets this season albeit his arm slot is different than Brian’s, the formula is very much aligned. As explained to me the metrics indicate a “shallow vertical approach angle”, the measurement of how steep the angle of the ball is when approaching the plate … in plain terms his arm slot ( which factors in release height ) produces pitches that stay above the barrel of the bat. It indicates that there is no need to alter his approach, it’s already very successful. It is an example of how modern technology supports coaching and is used to keep the approach aligned rather than altered. I think he’s the front runner for this year’s award and I also believe he can advance to the show at some point and be very effective.

LH Josh Hendrickson - has also been very consistent this summer. The 23 year old Australian has posted a 3.50 ERA in 19 games ( 87 1/3 IP ) between Jersey Shore and Reading ( promoted 6/8/21 ) with 84 K’s and 26 BB. His WHIP percentage is 1.12 and opponents have a .228 batting average against him. Josh is a tall fella at 6’4” with a long stride that generally delivers from a three quarter arm slot. It’s been my observation that he cups the ball well behind his body before releasing which is akin to Bailey Falter. It makes his pitches difficult to pick up, Bailey is more over the top than Josh but the out front release point and the arm action to get there from behind the back side is similar. Josh has been amongst the organization leaders all summer in multiple statistical categories.

RH Adam Leverett - he’s pitched at three levels this season ( Jersey Shore, Reading and Lehigh Valley ) and has posted a 3.84 ERA in 19 games ( 75 IP ) with a 1.16 WHIP, opponents are hitting just .225 against him. Adam goes right after hitters, no fear in this young man’s approach. He’s 22 years old and just in his second pro season after being selected in the 15th round of the 2019 draft from Gordon State Junior College in Georgia. He shows strong ability to use spin to his advantage, locate his pitches and has a four pitch repertoire.

RH Victor Vargas - other than one outing in July and his most recent start this month the 20 year old has been very, very good. He’s pitched at three levels, Clearwater, Jersey Shore and Lehigh Valley ( made a spot start there ). Victor has recorded a 3.84 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 75 IP ( 18 games ) with an opponents batting average of .241 against him. Discounting the 7/17 and 8/29 start his ERA in the other 16 games is a minuscule 2.37 in 68 2/3 IP. Victor isn’t a high velocity hurler but like Marconi he also induces weak contact. The movement, delivery and mix of his pitches project him as a viable starting pitching prospect. He’s just 20 as well so added velocity and strength is certainly still possible and even likely. He’s had a very strong season and certainly deserves consideration for the Owens Award. Update : 8/27 - unfortunately Victor had another rough outing which inflated his ERA to 4.70 in 76 2/3 IP - 19 games

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