|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Great day for lefties as Henry Owens, Drake Britton dazzle||07.07.12 at 11:42 am ET|
Matt Barnes has been the headliner among Red Sox pitching prospects this year, with Drake Britton‘s strong transition to Double-A and Anthony Ranaudo‘s struggles at the same level serving as the next most prominent storylines among those who project as potential big league starters in the big league system.
But further down the ladder, there is another intriguing performance that has been easier to overlook. Left-hander Henry Owens is one of the youngest pitchers in the South Atlantic League at age 19, but he has shown the ability to overmatch older opponents on a consistent basis. That continued with one of his best outings of the year on Friday, when he tossed five shutout innings in which he punched out seven and, for the second time this year, did not walk a batter. He allowed a pair of singles in the first inning and then retired the final 14 batters he faced.
Owens has won five straight starts, improving to 9-2 on the year, with his wins total ranking second in the South Atlantic League. His 5.09 ERA is hardly impressive, but in almost all of his outings, he’s been dominant for the entire outing with the exception of a one-inning lapse (usually in his fourth or fifth inning of work). In the upper levels or the majors, that would represent a concern; in Single-A, that represents part of the developmental process, as a pitcher grows into the ability to sustain his stuff over a complete outing.
He shows the ability to work with an 89-92 mph fastball and to change speeds with a curveball that registers anywhere from the low- to high-70s. He is showing the makings of a good changeup.
The mix has been good enough to generate somewhat remarkable strikeout totals for a starting pitcher. The left-hander has 92 punchouts in just 63 2/3 innings, a rate of 13.0 per nine innings, still the best rate in the minors.
Naturally, he remains a work in progress less than one year into his professional career. But right now, there is every reason to believe that he has the chance to develop into a big league starting pitcher, and potentially a very good one. Despite his 6-foot-6 frame, he won’t be bumping his head against the big league ceiling quite as quickly as Barnes or Britton or Ranaudo, but for now, the 19-year-old’s full-season pro debut has been the most impressive by a Red Sox pitching prospect who was drafted out of high school since Casey Kelly‘s 2009 unveiling.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET: 3-1 LOSS AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)
– Jose Iglesias went 0-for-3 with a walk, his first walk in eight games since returning to Pawtucket from the disabled list. He’s hitting .152 in those contests.
– Che-Hsuan Lin went 3-for-5 with a double, his second three-hit game in as many days. Before a recent four-game hitting streak in which he’s 8-for-17, Lin had been 0-for-17 in his previous six games.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND: 4-2 WIN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
– Drake Britton submitted yet another excellent outing in Portland, firing six innings in which he allowed two runs, struck out five and walked none. The left-hander has given up two or fewer runs in five or his seven starts for the Sea Dogs since his promotion from High-A Salem. This marked the second time in Double-A that Britton did not walk a batter. Britton has struck out 29 and walked 16 in 36 2/3 innings over seven starts while working to a 3.93 ERA. Opponents are hitting .245 against him. Aside from a June 20 outing in which he got hit around for seven runs in three innings, he has a 2.41 ERA in his other six outings.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. prides himself on the ability to perform as an excellent situational hitter. He gave further credence to his reputation as just such a player on Saturday, when his 1-for-3 game included a walk and an RBI single. With runners in scoring position, he’s now hitting .389/.500/.444/.944 since his promotion to Portland, with nine runs batted in over the course of 17 games.
– Jacoby Ellsbury, in his second game in Double-A, went 1-for-4 with a double to center; he also flied out to center and grounded out twice.
– Ryan Sweeney, in his second rehab game, went 0-for-3; he’s now 1-for-7 in two contests.
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 16-2 WIN AT CAROLINA (INDIANS)
– Brandon Jacobs continued his recent tear, going 2-for-4 while blasting a homer (his seventh of the year and sixth since the start of June). In his last eight games, he’s hitting .406 with three walks, two homers and a double. He’s collected hits in six straight games and nine of his last 10.
– Xander Bogaerts, who was 1-for-15 in his first four games of July, rebounded with a 3-for-5 game that included a double. He and teammate Matt Barnes deployed for Kansas City following the game for the All-Star Futures Game. Bogaerts will carry with him a .284 average, .364 OBP, .472 slugging mark and .842 OPS, along with 12 homers, in 81 games for Salem, all tremendous numbers for a 19-year-old in the Carolina League.
– Christian Vazquez went 2-for-3 with a double and two walks, reaching base four times in a game for the first time this year. On May 31, he was hitting .211/.280/.259/.539. In the subsequent five-plus weeks, he’s improved that line to .249/.338/.358/.696.
SINGLE-A GREENVILLE: 4-0 WIN, 6-3 LOSS AT ROME (BRAVES)
– Keury De La Cruz followed a 1-for-2 performance that included a hit by pitch in the first game with a 1-for-4 game in the nightcap, extending his hitting streak to 10 games.
– Mickey Pena left the nightcap in the first inning after suffering a hamstring injury while covering first base.
– Catcher Jordan Weems had his second game of the year with multiple runs batted in. He went 2-for-3 in the nightcap with 2 RBI.
– Garin Cecchini had a double in each end of the doubleheader, and now has 22 two-baggers for the year, tied for fifth in the Sally League.
SHORT-SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS: 7-6 LOSS AT AUBURN (NATIONALS)
– Deven Marrero went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, collecting his first extra-base hit in 10 games.
– J.T. Watkins, a catcher taken in the 10th round out of the US Military Academy, went 1-for-2 with his first professional home run. He also was hit by a pair of pitches.
ROOKIE LEVEL GCL RED SOX: 9-4 LOSS AT GCL TWINS
–Tzu-Wei Lin, recently signed out of Taiwan to a $2.05 million bonus, made his pro debut by going 1-for-3 with a single, walk and stolen base. Lin is considered to have 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, and the Red Sox think that the shortstop (who served as DH in his first game) will be an impact base runner and base stealer based on both his speed and instincts.
– Cleuluis Rondon continued his excellent start to the year, going 2-for-4 with a double and triple. He now has 10 extra-base hits in 15 games this year, part of a .321/.321/.554/.875 line. Last year, he had nine extra-base hits in 62 games over the entirety of the DSL season.
DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE RED SOX: 9-3 WIN VS. DSL YANKEES
– Catcher Alixon Suarez went 0-for-3 but walked twice, and he now has 21 walks (against 18 strikeouts) in 28 games. He has a team-best .429 OBP this year.
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