The Mets drafted Dylan Owen in the 20th round of the 2007 draft out of Francis Marion University. Since then he has gradually worked his way up through the Mets system, receiving little fanfare, but pitching well. He has spent time at nearly every level of the Mets minor league chain, from Brooklyn to Buffalo. Last year he pitched almost all season at AAA Buffalo, making 20 GS and 5 relief appearances totaling 116.1 IP. The 25-year-old right-hander put up a record of 6-7 with an ERA of 4.26, 110 hits, and a 91/44 K/BB ratio.
I touched base with Dylan yesterday, where he is pitching for the Leones del Caracas of the Venezuelan Winter League, and he was kind enough to answer some questions:
Petey: We are chatting with NY Mets pitching prospect Dylan Owen, who is nice enough to take time out and answer some questions for our readers at MMO. Hi Dylan, how are you doing?
Dylan: Hey Pete I’m doing well. We have an off day so relaxing a little.
Petey: Presently you are playing winter ball for Leones del Caracas, in the Venezuelan Winter League, is this your first time playing winter ball? Tell us a little bit about what it’s like living and playing baseball in Venezuela. Is the style of play different? What about the town you live in, and is it difficult to adapt to things like the food, and local customs? Do you speak Spanish?
Dylan: This is not my first winterball experience I played in Puerto Rico last year. I would say the style of play is about the same but the atmosphere is a lot different, the fans are so loud and watch every pitch and have chants it’s great. I live in Caracas at a hotel. It’s nice we have a mall built into the hotel so we go there and get food the majority of the time. The food is different but it is easy to get accustomed to. My Spanish is ok I understand it more but I can order my food and talk to people in the mall.
Petey: Your manager with Caracas is someone Mets fans are very familiar with, and he was your manager last season at Buffalo, and next year will be a coach on the Mets big league staff, Tim Teufel. What is Tim like as a manager?
Dylan: I like “Tuff” a lot he has been my manager all the way from St. Lucie to now. He is an exciting manager. He will fight for you on the field and wants the best out of his players. You can tell that he wants to win, he stays positive throughout the game trying to keep our heads focused on winning.
Petey: Tim’s son Shawn Teufel is on the same pitching staff with you right now, what type of pitcher is he? You also have a couple of players on the team who were your teammates last year at AAA, Josh Satin and Val Pascucci. As far as safety issues, do you guys have to take special precautions regarding your security, in light of what has happened with Wilson Ramos?
Dylan: Shawn is a lefty with several good pitches that he can throw for strikes. He is not a power pitcher he is more of a command guy that frustrates hitters. With “Scooch” and “Sat” here, I feel like it’s easier because we know each other and we can hang out on and off the field. Of course we have security guards but we don’t really have any precautions. They let us know when we got here the do’s and don’ts, so we just follow the rules and travel together.
Petey: You have been pitching very well this season in the VWL, posting a 1-2 record and a 1.76 ERA in 5 starts and 2 relief appearances, totaling 30.2 IP. You have surrendered 21 hits and 6 walks, to go with 31 strikeouts, and the league is hitting only .194 against you. Did the Mets give you anything specific to work on this winter?
Dylan: Thank you. I have been throwing a lot of strikes with my offspeed and also expanding the zone when I need to, and it has given me a lot of success. I think the Mets just wanted me to experience the fan base and this kind of baseball where there is a winning atmosphere.
Petey: Tell us a little bit about your arsenal. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, are you working on any new pitches moving forward? What is your method for attacking hitters?
Dylan: My arsenal consists of a 4 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball, curveball, cutter, and a changeup. My fastball this year was around 90 to 94. My curveball is lower to upper 70’s and the cutter is usually 83-86. My method is just being aggressive at all times on the mound. Pitch backwards when I need to and also fastballs in for strikes and in for effectiveness. I don’t picture myself as a strikeout pitcher, but when I follow my plan and execute my pitches I tend to strikeout more batters.
Petey: Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of becoming a major league baseball player?
Dylan: Growing up I always wanted to play on TV but it was for the Braves haha, that’s everyone’s team down south. I was always inspired by my brother, Austin Owen because he was older than me and I watched him play throughout the years.
Petey: Moving forward, what stands between you and the big leagues? What do you specifically need to work on as a player and improve upon, in order to be ready to compete on the big stage?
Dylan: I would say just facing batters with more experience like here in Venezuela, and AAA, so I can focus on locating my pitches during the right count.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself playing like someday in the majors?
Dylan: My favorite team growing up were the Atlanta Braves. My favorite player was Chipper Jones. I collected so many baseball cards of him, I had over a hundred cards. I started liking pitchers more once I starting pitching more in college. Once I started focusing on pitching and not hitting anymore, I looked up to Roy Oswalt because he is not a very tall guy like me, so it made me feel like I had a chance.
Petey: Pitching last year at AAA Buffalo, you had some ups and downs, but gained momentum as the season went on. It seemed to an outsider, that you must have adapted and made some changes in order to pitch more and more effectively. What did you learn from pitching at AAA last year, and what sort of adjustments did you make during the season?
Dylan: Earlier in the season I didn’t really have a role and that made it hard for me to have a routine to follow every week and it made things difficult at times. The main adjustment I made was to attack the hitters, early contact with good location and expand the zone when I was ahead. I would say the one who helped me with that attitude and mound presence was (Bison’s pitching coach) Ricky Bones. Once I started following that game plan I found myself going deeper in ball games and putting up better numbers.
Petey: Wow great answer! And to finish up Dylan, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite food? How bout your favorite musician or band?
Dylan: My favorite food has changed over the years lol like now in Venezuela it is chicken. But I love seafood, there’s nothing better than grilled salmon. I like all types of music, my gameday music consists of a lot more rap and techno, but I listen to all genres.
Petey: Very cool. Thanks again for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview Dylan. It has been a lot of fun! Good luck on the rest of your winter season, and of course the upcoming year.
Dylan: Thank you Pete for contacting me and I hope the article turns out great for you and your followers.
It was really great of Dylan to answer some questions for us here on MMO. Hopefully we can talk more with him during ST, and get his insights on the competition for the big league bullpen, and how the pitching staff will be shaping up at Buffalo for 2012. Dylan is a great guy, and we wish him the best!
For more MMO Player interviews, go to Interviews