SoxProspects News

October 31, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Top 40 Season in Review: Henry Owens


2012 Team: Greenville Drive
2012 Stats: 12-5, 4.87 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 47 BB, 130 K

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Pre-2012: Owens, the 36th pick overall in the the 2011 draft, is the first of four entries from that class to appear in the top ten countdown. The youngest of those four, Owens was seen as a high upside left-hander who could develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter. He had a dominant senior year at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., going 11-0 and striking out 114 in only 77 innings. Owens signed for a $1.55 million bonus on August 15, the signing deadline, passing up on his commitment to the University of Miami. Given how late he signed, he was not assigned to an affiliate.

2012 Season in Review: The Red Sox tested the tall lefty with a placement in full-season Greenville. He proved up to the challenge, showing fantastic swing-and-miss stuff, striking out a league-leading 11.5 batters per nine innings. However, Owens did have a penchant for falling victim to big innings. Frequently dominant his first time through the order, he could lose his mechanics for an inning or so, usually later in appearances. This would result in losses in both his command, particularly with his fastball, and his control, leading to fairly high walk rates and an average of less than five innings per start. 

This kind of development need is not unusual for a younger pitcher like Owens, who, at six-foot-seven, has a lot of moving parts to get under control. Also encouraging was that he displayed good durability throughout the season, gaining strength as the summer went on, lowering his ERA in the second half, and surpassing 100 innings pitched in a year in which he turned 20 years old in July. Additionally, some of Owens' high ERA seemed to be generated by the sort of bad luck specific to Single-A, with a .359 BABIP inflated by an abundance of infield singles that defenders higher in the minor leagues would likely handle. Overshadowed some by the phenomenal debuts of fellow 2011 draftees Matt Barnes and Jackie Bradley, Owens would have been a serious contender for the organization's rookie of the year in most seasons. 

2013 Outlook: Owens has an upside that could place him among the best pitching prospects in the minor leagues if he develops as hoped. After a season of adjusting to professional baseball, Owens goes into the offseason with a handle on the type of strength-building he will need to undergo in order to maintain his best stuff and command deeper into his appearances. Ticketed for High A Salem, Owens' fastball/curveball combination should continue to generate lots of swings and misses at that level. It is important to keep in mind, however, that making the necessary development steps are more easily said than done. Although Owens probably has a ceiling of a number two or three starter right now, he is far enough away that a failure to rein in his mechanics could lead him to the bullpen. Three years away from Rule 5 eligibility, Owens will be given every opportunity to harness his stuff and make it as a starter. 


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Photo credit: Henry Owens by Kelly O'Connor

 
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