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SoxProspects News

March 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Owens using size to advantage as he adjusts to professional hitters

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The best advice 2011 supplemental first round pick Henry Owens has received since joining the organization is to not let the older guys get the bucket when they are shagging.

Owens, a tall left-handed pitcher, chose to sign with the Red Sox out of high school instead of playing Division-1 baseball at the University of Miami.

Owens said he has always been taller than his opponents, and he uses it to his advantage.

“Getting on top of the baseball—a downward plane towards the zone—it’s harder for a hitter to get under the ball and hit it. I get a lot of ground balls that way.”

Owens’ arsenal includes a fastball, a curveball, and a circle changeup, but he also threw a slider in high school that the Red Sox have shelved for the time being.

“They’re just making sure I can polish all three pitches I have now, and maybe later on in my career I’ll bring the slider back.”

Owens’ game plan typically includes getting ahead in the count early, throwing his off-speed pitches when he is behind in the count, and when the hitter is off-balance, to go after him and be aggressive.

Since joining the Red Sox organization the biggest thing Owens’ has learned is to listen to his coaches.

“They have the 14-15 years experiences, and I haven’t seen anything yet.”

Owens has had to adapt to a significantly higher level of hitting. He said he's noticed that hitters at the professional level “don’t really swing at pitches out of the zone. They look for their pitch, and their pitch is not necessarily my pitch, but I still have to throw where my catcher sets up. My spot just needs to be low in the zone.”

Garin Cecchini, Matt Gedman, and Travis Shaw are left-handed hitters that Owens said have impressed him so far because of their ability to see the ball out of his hand. Owens believes that he typically hides the ball well against lefties, but admitted that those hitters “stay back pretty well and can take it to all fields.”

When facing a left-handed hitter, Owens said that it’s more like he’s coming right at them because he’s all the way over on the left side of the rubber. But with right-handed hitters, it looks like the ball is going to “get in on their hands a little bit more” because of his arm slot and because “the ball carries to that side of the plate.”

Owens takes solace in his mental strength and dealing with adversity well. He is focusing on “getting stronger” and “keeping [himself] conditioned, so [he] can pitch later into games.”

Owens applied what he has learned since joining the organization to his first start of the spring, in which he retired all six batters he faced in two innings of work. In his first inning, he threw eight of 12 pitches for strikes, including first pitch strikes to each batter. He struck out two batters looking, and elicited a ground ball out. In his second inning of work, he threw five of nine pitches for strikes, eliciting two ground ball outs, and struck out a batter looking.

This spring, Owens is working on improving his arm strength and increasing his velocity, and is looking forward to his first full season as a part of the Red Sox organization.

Elizabeth Dreeson is a Special Contributor to SoxProspects.com. Follow her on Twitter @Eli_Dreesox.