Connor Owings enters his first season with the Grizzlies and his third as a professional in 2019.
A 34th-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2016 MLB Draft, Owings played 2016 with the Short Season-A Hillsboro (Ore.) Hops and split 2017 between Hillsboro and Class-A Kane County.
Owings, who turned 25 on May 11, missed last season after kidney transplant surgery on Feb. 28, 2018. Owings’ new kidney was donated by his mother, Sherri. Owings suffers from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which affects more than 5,000 people in the United States each year. As a result, his left kidney never developed and his right took on additional work. Owings learned about his condition the summer before his freshman year of college and doctors informed him he would eventually need a new kidney when it started functioning below 15 percent. Former NBA players Alonzo Mourning and Sean Elliott also suffer from the condition.
Owings played four years at Coastal Carolina (S.C.) University, culminating in winning the College World Series with the Chanticleers in 2016. That season, Owings hit .357 with 16 home runs, 57 RBIs, and a 1.111 OPS (more than 240 points better than his previous career high) in 72 games. Coastal battled back from dropping game one of the best-of-three finals to Arizona with a 5-4 win in game two and title-clinching 4-3 victory in game three. CCU had to win three straight games (over Texas Tech and TCU twice after losing to the Horned Frogs in the second game of the CWS) out of the losers’ bracket just to reach the finals. The Chants also swept LSU, two games to none, in Super Regionals at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. — widely considered one of the most difficult places to play in college baseball. He was a three-time All-Big South selection.
Owings’ older brother, Chris, plays in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals. Before joining KC this season, Chris Owings spent parts of six years with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Chris led the National League in triples (11) in 2016 and was also the NL’s most efficient base-stealer (21-for-23, 91.3 percent); he has played six positions (everywhere but pitcher, catcher, and first base) in his major-league career.