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June 4, 2012 at 9:25 AM

The Book: Henry Owens

Date: June 2, 2012
Team: Greenville Drive

Line: 5.0 innings, 6 hits, 3 earned runs, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 65 pitches

Fastball: Owens’ fastball ranged from 91-94 mph, mainly sitting 92-93 mph for the majority of the outing. His heater showed late life, especially when he was staying on top of the ball, and has some running action to it. Owens controlled the offering well to throw strikes, but is presently inconsistent with his command of it. He left the ball up or in the middle of the plate on a number of occasions throughout the start, paying for it eventually in the fourth inning. Owens got touched for three consecutive hits against his fastball in the frame, with two of them being driven well for a triple and a home run. He had trouble finishing his delivery, leaving the pitch in very hittable zones. The fastball command graded as below-average in this start. When Owens was able to throw downhill, his ball showed downward finish and he was capable of throwing it to both sides of the plate effectively. He picked up two of his strikeouts with his fastball, elevating it in both instances at 93 mph past the opposing hitters. His heater jumps deceptively out of his delivery, giving batters less of a look and keeping them behind the offering at this level due to his velocity. There is a lot of work to go to improve the command of the offering by learning how to reel the pitch in and get more consistent finishing his delivery.

Secondary Offerings: Owens gives two different looks with his curveball, throwing a slow curve that clocked in at 66-69 mph and a harder one at 74-77 mph. He threw both variations for strikes, but had better success fooling opposing batters with his harder version of the pitch. Owens was crisp snapping off the offering and created tight rotation with it, giving it depth as it broke down through the strike zone. He picked up a strikeout looking with an especially tight one and also produced some swings-and-misses or off-balance swings out in front of it. When in the upper reaches of its velocity, the curve has the look of a potential solid-average-to-better pitch at the major league level. Owens tended to tip off his slow curve a bit by slowing his delivery down and looked to use it as a “get me over” offering to pick up a strike. It was loopy and loose mostly in this outing. He also featured a 76-80 mph changeup that was rough and below-average in the start. Owens was inconsistent with his arm-speed, leaving the pitch up on multiple occasions. The change did flash some strong bottom dropping action, but floated flatly to the plate and was driven hard twice. He can slow his arm down considerably when throwing it, which hinders the deception and makes it very hittable for opposing batters. Owens did show the type of feel to have strong progress with the offering as he learns to throw the change with more consistent arm-speed.

Take: Owens has good stuff coming out of his hand, but is very much a thrower right now. He is in the raw stages with his pitchability and being able to repeat his delivery over the course of an outing. Owens struggles repeating his delivery were the root cause of his lack of fastball command in this outing. It did not bite him until the fourth inning, but he was consistently up with his heater from the onset of the game. Possessing a lanky body right now, there are a lot of arms and legs shown to opposing hitters, and given his velocity the pitch jumps on hitters. I liked the ease to which Owens creates velocity and feel that with some physical development he can gain a tick or two on his sitting velocity, while also being able to hold his stuff deeper into outings with improved strength. The development step ahead of Owens in his early career is to learn how to repeat his delivery to stay consistent with his arm slot and begin to pound the lower tier of the strike zone more for strikes.

Bringing Owens’ secondary offerings into the view, he is a very projectable left-handed pitcher. But, expect his development over the course of his first couple of professional seasons to be slow and steady, with things taken a step and level at a time. His harder curveball looked like a pitch than can continue to play as he advances up the ranks and there is more room for growth with it. In this view, I did not see much to his slow curve and feel Owens would be better served focusing on consistently throwing the pitch in the 74-77 mph range. With progress tightening the offering as he gets into his early twenties, it can show as a major league out-pitch for him. While his changeup is presently rough and crude, he flashed the ability to feel the pitch when his arm-speed was in sync with that of his fastball. Owens was comfortable throwing it and did not back away from using it throughout the outing. I saw a solid pitching foundation and the ceiling of a third starter at the big league level. However, as a long lead guy, he presently has a ways to go towards polishing off both his repertoire and delivery to that of a major league pitcher. Future scouting looks will be centered on the progress he is making with the command of his arsenal and whether steps are being made at being more consistent with his delivery.

Chris Mellen is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMellen