Red Sox starters Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy all are gone, traded away less than a year after the franchise’s World Series title. In their place are rookies Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster, inexperienced starters Rubby de la Rosa and Brandon Workman, new import Joe Kelly, holdover Clay Buchholz and, on the horizon, top prosect Henry Owens.
The Red Sox promoted Owens to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this month, and he could be in line for another bump to the bigs if his initial appearances for the PawSox go well.
With so many rotation openings going forward, the Red Sox will be auditioning pitchers for spots in the 2015 rotation, and Owens, who started the Futures Game for the U.S. team, will get his shot soon.
The lanky, 6-foot-7 lefthander has solid-average velocity (88-92 mph), but Owens succeeds more with deception than velocity because batters struggle to pick up the ball out of his hand. He pairs that with a dominant changeup, the best in the Double-A Eastern League this season.
The Red Sox have moved him away from throwing a slider, and he now uses a curveball as a third pitch, which can be inconsistent but is average when he commands it. Other times, it can be too loopy.
Owens is working on control this season and has sliced his walk rate to a career low 3.5 batters per nine innings, and over the course of his past 10 outings, has walked 19 in 64 innings. Scouts praise his makeup as well.
What To Expect
Owens set a career high with 135 innings in 2013, and he had reached 138 2/3 already this season, so it’s unclear how far Boston would push the 21-year-old lefty, only three years out of Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said how many innings Owens would pitch is up to how he looks.
“He’s in decent shape so we don’t have a hard innings cap on him. He’s still throwing the ball well and remains strong,” Crockett told the Pawtucket (R.I.) Times. “It’s been a positive year that’s seen him make great strides . . . They don’t have a specific number, but I’m sure they have some sort of plan. Right now the focus on continuing to develop.”
Owens projects as a mid-rotation starter, at worst, and someone to grab and stash in keeper leagues because his big league stay could be long and productive.