The Boston Red Sox Debut of Henry Owens

Every first start brings with it hope that the kid is going to be the next big thing. The Boston Red Sox debut of Henry Owens was not a great one, but he did show some signs for encouragement. Ian York breaks down the start as only he can.

Henry Owens, one of the Red Sox’ top prospects, made his major-league debut on August 4, 2015. The 23-year-old wasn’t eased into the big leagues; the Sox threw him out against the Yankees, in Yankee Stadium. Even though the game ended up a blowout, 13-3 against the Sox, Owens performed creditably enough, leaving the game in the 6th inning with a 2-1 lead before the bullpen imploded spectacularly.

Owens’ history and pitch repertoire was covered by Brandon Magee when he was called up, and his major-league start matched expectations; he showed four solid pitches – fastball, slider, curve and change – with good location of each:

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His fastball was not overwhelming, averaging 91.3-mph and ranging from 88.4 to 93.4-mph. He maintained his velocity well throughout the start:

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As advertised, his changeup was very effective, drawing called strikes, swinging strikes, and foul balls against a single hit. Separated from the fastball by an average of 12.5-mph, these pitches were very well located, with many falling precisely on the edge of the strike zone:

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He threw his slider only to left-handed batters, and his curve mainly (11 of 13) to righties and in the later innings. Although about half of these pitches were outside the strike zones, they were close enough, and deceptive enough, to draw some swings even on pitches that ended up well outside the zone. Here is a slider Owens threw to strike out Jacoby Ellsbury in the 5th inning:

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Finally, Owens’ most impressive attribute may have been his composure on the mound. He maintained his calm in spite of a difficult first inning (33 pitches, 2 hits, one run) and then retired 12 consecutive batters through the second to fifth inning.

While Owens’ debut was not as dramatic as that of Eduardo Rodriguez, and none of his individual pitches are as impressive as Rodriguez’ fastball, he showed why he was consistently rated among the top 50 prospects coming in to 2015.

Ian York has written about rookie struggles, an impressive start by Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Napoli and the effect the strike zone is having on him, and the effect of better bullpens on offensive strategy.

Follow Ian on Twitter @iayork.

Check out Brandon Magee‘s weekly minor league report for the week of 8/7 and Ian’s look at Joe Kelly’s fastballs.

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