The Hannibal Hoots are in the market for a middle infielder.
Ethan Owens figured to be a fixture near the top of the lineup this summer. He batted .342 this spring for Drury University, and he was penciled in the No. 2 spot in the Hoots' batting order for Friday night's Prospect League game against the Quincy Gems.
However, he was hit in the left hand in the first inning with a pitch from Gems starter Cody Klotz.
Owens left Clemens Field to have his hand examined, and when he came back to the park, he told Hoots general manager Matt Stembridge that two bones were broken.
"I was told he's out minimum six weeks, which in all likelihood, he's done for the summer," Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. "Losing Ethan hurts us. We were really looking forward to having him."
Josh Lane, who hit .349 at shortstop this spring at Taylor (Ind.), was moved from second base to replace Owens.
"I have no doubt Josh can move to short. I have all the confidence in the world in him," Hicks said. "But having him and Ethan up the middle would have been nice."
Saak filling dual role for Hoots
The Quincy Gems have shown they have a deep and talented bullpen in just two games this summer. Gems relievers have pitched 9 2/3 innings and allowed just one unearned run.
The Hoots could use a few more bodies in their bullpen.
Left-hander Tommy Kraus, who had 116 at-bats as an outfielder for Rockhurst this spring, tossed 1 2/3 innings of relief on Friday for the Hoots, allowing three hits and one run.
"He said he'd do it to save our pitching," Hicks said.
The starting pitcher has failed to get through the fifth inning in two of Hannibal's first three games. The pitch count rules adopted this year in the Prospect League make Hicks concerned if he has enough pitching.
"Do we need more pitchers? The easy answer is yes," Hicks said. "With the rules what they are, you have to overload on pitching."
Brendan Saak, who recently graduated from Quincy University, was expecting to handle the social media account during games for the Hoots this summer. However, Saak was in uniform for Thursday's 3-1 loss to Springfield, and he hurled three scoreless innings of relief. Players who completed their college eligibility this spring are eligible to play in the Prospect League.
Saak made 14 appearances for QU this spring and sported a 7.41 earned run average. He was back in the press box on Friday night, doing his social media work. It is not known if Saak will continue the dual role this spring.
Overstreet looks good in debut
The Gems' relief staff stole the show on Friday night, but Hannibal starter Dalton Overstreet quietly had an encouraging performance in his summer debut.
Overstreet, a Hannibal High School graduate, pitched in just 11 innings over five games at Quincy University this spring and had an ERA of 9.00. He pitched just once after May 1.
Overstreet got the start against the Gems and allowed just three hits and no runs in the first four innings. He gave up two doubles, a single to right and an infield single in the fifth before he left the game. He finished with five strikeouts.
"Dalton threw the ball well," Hicks said. "I know he didn't get a lot of innings for QU, but he showed a lot of life. He's got a lot of upside."