Henry Owens’ Long Wait Ends

by Mark Gallant | Posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
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henry owens

Despite being just 23-years-old, Henry Owens has been a household name among Red Sox die-hards for a couple of years now. Yet, it is just tonight that he makes his big league debut.

A 2011 supplemental first round pick out of high school, Owens has been a top prospect right from the start. After a rough first year in pro baseball in which he put up mediocre numbers for the Greenville Drive, Owens has been very consistent at each stop through the minors. Since 2012, the 6-foot-7 lefty hasn’t recorded a WHIP above 1.16 and has kept opposing hitters to a very low batting average. Though he doesn’t have overwhelming velocity, Owens is able to use a devastating changeup to fool hitters. Also, his seemingly effortless delivery and long limbs help him to deceive hitters.

The third left-handed rookie starter the Red Sox have debuted this season, Owens is more similar to Brian Johnson than Eduardo Rodriguez. While Rodriguez pounds the zone with a fastball that can reach the mid-upper 90s, Owens and Johnson use a mixture of offspeed pitches to keep hitters guessing. In Johnson’s debut, he used around 50% curveballs— a far cry from Rodriguez’s >90% fastball rate.

While Owens was having a serious command problem earlier in the season, he has looked much more promising in recent weeks. In his first 12 starts of the season, Owens walked at least four batters in seven of them, including two six-walk performances. In the nine starts since then, he hasn’t given up more than two walks once. So while his season strikeout to walk ratio is just 1.84 (103 Ks, 56 BBs), it has been more than double that in his past nine starts at 3.71 (52 Ks, 14 BBs).

Owens doesn’t project to be an ace in the major leagues. There aren’t many aces out there who have trouble topping 92 on the radar gun, however, there are always exceptions. If Owens can continue to improve his command, he could certainly become a top-end starter, but ace is probably a stretch. Along with Rodriguez and Johnson, Owens completes a strong young trio of southpaws that should contribute next season or possibly help the Red Sox in the trade market.

Unfortunately for the rookie, he is making his debut against a hard-hitting Yankees club that is full of veteran sluggers. Not to mention, Yankee Stadium is a hitters ballpark that also packs a harsh environment. Owens has done a fine job of keeping the ball in the ballpark in AAA with just seven home runs allowed in 21 starts, but that could change tonight. If he is able to keep his composure and keep the Yankees hitters confused, he should be alright.

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Mark Gallant
About the Author

Mark has contributed to isportsweb, the Yawkey Way Report, Fansided's Chowder and Champions, and The Hockey Writers. He is also the host of the weekly radio show Top Shelf Sports on Bryant University's WJMF radio. Follow him on Twitter @TopShelfSports5

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