7th Inning Stretch: Owen Steele

He was the Man of Steel on the cellar-dwelling Yorkton Cardinals last year, but now he’s one of several masters on the mound in Medicine Hat.

With the Cardinals in 2018, Owen Steele had a minuscule 1.46 earned run average (ERA) and 46 strikeouts through 49 innings of work for the 14-33 Eastern Division squad.

Since joining the defending Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) champion Mavericks this summer, the Calgarian has a perfect 6-0 record, 48 Ks and a 3.81 ERA in 59 frames.

He’s been a reliable presence in Medicine Hat’s starting rotation and we caught up with the 5-foot-10 hurler to spotlight him in our 7th Inning Stretch series. We posed seven baseball questions to the University of Calgary (U of C) Dino product. Here’s what he had to say:

1. In making the jump from the Cardinals to the Mavs, you went from one of the worst teams in the league to the defending champs – and you also went from a much smaller centre to a bigger city. What was that transition like?

The atmosphere in Medicine Hat is completely different. Every single day the team is ready to go and win, and coming off a league championship, everyone wants to repeat.

I love being in a bigger city, and the transition was even easier, as my family can now come and watch whenever they’d like to. It’s really been a fantastic place to play that’s made me feel at home.

2. You also play for the U of C with the Dinos in the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). There are a number of really good CCBC players in the WCBL. How has your time with the Dinos prepared you for play in the WCBL?

Those CCBC players are guys I get to see week after week, which gives me a chance to see what I can do and build my confidence for when I do get into the WCBL season. It gives me a bar for where I want to be at every year because I know that the best in my league are also some of the best here.

3. You were the ERA leader in the WCBL last summer, and you are having another great year in Medicine Hat. How did you approach this summer – did you have specific goals in mind with the Mavs?

I went into the season with Medicine Hat with the same goals as Yorkton. Go in, make sure my team has a good chance to win every single time I throw, and make the most of the opportunities I’ve been given. It was the cornerstone for a really successful year last year and helped me towards another season where I feel like I really contributed to the team.

4. What is working well for you this season and what pitches do you have in your repertoire?

The biggest thing this year is how my offspeed stuff has come along. Last year I was basically a fastball and slider pitcher, and if I didn’t have it that day, it was gonna be a grind.

Pitcher Owen Steele looks out from the visiting dugout at Seaman Stadium … photo by Ian Wilson

I’ve had a lot of success with my changeup in Medicine Hat, which has been helpful. This year, I’ve been throwing a fastball that I usually cut a bit, a slider, spiked curveball, and a circle changeup.

5. What are your opinions on pitchers showing emotion during a game? On a scale of a Marcus Stroman shimmy to a Trevor Bauer ball sailing into the center field bleachers, where are you on the spectrum?

I have absolutely no issues with it. I think Bauer throwing a ball over the wall was cool to see. Different people have different personalities and ways of playing the game, and if they want to get pumped up with a bat flip or strikeout celebration, then they should do it. I’m probably never gonna be someone that shows much on the mound, but I’m not going to dissuade others from enjoying the sport they love to the fullest.

6. When, if ever, is a good time to hit an opposing batter with a pitch?

Generally, I’d rather not hit anyone while I’m pitching. An extra base runner is always a negative for your team and getting hit in the wrong spot can end really badly. When it comes down to it though, I’ll do anything for my teammates without hesitation. Just make sure the pitch isn’t too high up on the guy.

7. What are your plans after the summer? Are you back with the Dinos for your senior season?

I’ll be playing out my senior year with U of C, right when we get back in September. I’m looking forward to one last season in the CCBC and the WCBL. 

It’s been all smiles for Steele with the Mavs in 2019 … photo by Ian Wilson

I will also be finishing out my degree this year with a pitching-related biomechanics project which I’m excited for, and hopefully I’ll end my time in university by graduating with distinction.


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