The Boston Red Sox have often been able to bring successful pitchers through their system. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholtz, and Felix Doubront are all shining examples of pitchers on their staff that were developed and became stars in the organization. Henry Owens, the club’s 2011 first rounder is another budding superstar who could make it very soon. Each time he toes the rubber, he gives fans a taste of what to look forward to seeing in Fenway.
As a big-time high school arm, selected with the 36th pick, Owens has quickly lived up to expectations. Although he was playing more than two and a half years younger than his competition in 2012, Owens held his own going 12-5 and striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings. These numbers allowed him to rank fourth in the league in strikeouts.
The next year he was even better. Throughout 2013, Owens cemented his top prospect status. He not only pitched well in high A Salem, but he was even better when he was promoted to AA Portland. Combined he finished the season with 26 starts and a slim 2.67 ERA. He showed his maturity by being successful while pitching at an age well below his competition. Batters hit just .177 off of him throughout the season, which was best among all minor league qualifiers. While pitching in AA he was able to keep opposing batters off base by keeping an extremely low 1.088 WHIP (Walks/Hits per Innings Pitched).
This season he has continued his dominance in AA. Through five starts, he is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA. In his first two starts, he was literally unhittable going 12.2 innings without allowing a base hit. While his strikeouts are a bit down, his walk rate has also shrunk to the lowest of his career. On April 14th he was named minor league pitcher of the week after two stellar outings. Minus one hiccup, in which he allowed six runs in five innings, Owens has kept his team in every game.
At 6’6”, Owens tall, lanky frame makes gives him the look of a future big leaguer. Although he is just 21 years old, he currently ranks as the second best left-handed pitching prospect in all of baseball. He teams his low 90s fastball with a very effective change up. If he can continue to develop a third pitch, he could be a dominant frontline starter. Throughout the years some of Boston’s finest pitchers have come through their minor league system. Owens continued development could show Boston that the best is yet to come.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference and MILB.com