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Rich Sauveur on Minor Details: ‘I can see [Henry Owens] being a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox’

08.14.14 at 9:27 pm ET
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PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur suggested that left-hander Henry Owens showed top-of-the-rotation stuff in his Triple-A debut. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur suggested that left-hander Henry Owens showed top-of-the-rotation stuff in his Triple-A debut. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Pawtucket Red Sox pitching coach Rich Sauveur joined WEEI.com’€™s Alex Speier on the Minor Details podcast to discuss his first impressions of Henry Owens with the PawSox and the large influx of plus pitching in the organization. To listen to the interview, go to the WEEI podcast audio on demand page.

Owens, Boston’€™s top pitching prospect, has impressed at the Triple-A level, posting a 1-0 record with a 3.09 ERA and 14 strikeouts in two starts (11 2/3 innings). Owens was particularly dominant in his first outing Aug. 4 against Columbus, holding the Clippers to two hits and no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings while recording nine punchouts.

“Well, being actually the first time I’ve seen him throw, yes, I’ve seen him throw a couple times down in spring training, but to actually see him up here pitching for me was pretty exciting. … Obviously, by the outcome, striking out the side in the first inning, and seeing the poise on the mound was just outstanding. This kid is 22 years old, and again, striking out the side on three plus pitches — the fastball and the curveball and the changeup — it was an outstanding time for me,” Sauveur said.

Sauveur added that both Owens’€™ confidence on the hill and his impressive repertoire of pitches make it easy for him to project the southpaw as a top-of-the-line starter in the major leagues.

“Going on one start, I can say that I see this guy being a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Boston Red Sox. … [His] poise on the mound is ridiculous,” Sauveur said. “€œThis kid reminds me of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. I mean, just a goofball in the clubhouse and having a good time, and when he steps between those two wide lines that go down each side of the field, it’s game on. … Talking about his stuff, the fastball velocity was decent, the command was outstanding … and then he showed two plus pitches. … Of course, if this kid strikes out nine guys in a Triple-A game, something is going on.”

While there have been whispers that Owens might get a call up to Boston once rosters expand in September, Sauveur said a whole year down in Pawtucket would be very beneficial for the young pitcher.

“To me, and you’re asking me, so I’m going to tell you, I think a full year is very good,”€ Sauveur said. “The kid is 22 years old. I think a full year in Triple-A would do this kid wonders, but again, what he showed the other day, you could say, and a lot of people have, that’s why I think they’re talking and saying this kid could pitch in Boston. The stuff showed, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s one outing. To me, if he has a bad outing, well what do we do? ‘Oh no, he’s not ready.’ You can’t do that.

“€œRight now, this kid needs to be in Triple-A. They moved him up for a reason. He’s performed at Double-A and he succeeded very well. Let’s see how he performs at this level. One game is not everything. … He knows his goal is to pitch in Boston and it will happen. But again, I think the timetable, if you ask me, I think you need to give him a little bit more time at this level.”

The Red Sox have a multitude of talented pitchers in the organization, with players like Owens, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Brandon Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Steven Wright and Allen Webster all either at the major-league level or on the cusp of reaching it. While Sauveur remarked that Boston’€™s rotation has a number of talented players in the pipeline for years to come, he also noted that a number of these pitchers could also be dangled as trade bait in an effort to acquire more pop for the Red Sox lineup.

“My opinion is you’re going to have a great rotation in the major leagues for the Boston Red Sox, plus you’re going to have a couple guys that are traded for a couple big-league hitters, because there’s too many arms down here in this organization right now that you just cannot leave down at the Triple-A level. … These guys have to have a place to go. The next level is where they’re all going to end up.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On the impact that starting in the big leagues had on Anthony Ranaudo: “That one start, and then he came back down, I think was fantastic for this kid. He had 2 1/2 to almost three months here of being so consistent in what he was trying to do, and when he got consistent, he got confident, and you could see it in this kid. It was oozing out of him. It wasn’t cocky, he was confident. When he got the call to the big leagues, it was, ‘You know what, this kid’s ready and he’s going to get his experience.’ There’s no pressure on this kid right now.

“The only pressure that was on him was stuff that he put on himself, because he was pitching against the New York Yankees. He did a fantastic job up there, the confidence stood up to the test and he came back. He knew that he wasn’t going to stay there, but I guarantee you that he feels really good about himself because he knows that he showed those guys that he can pitch in the big leagues.”

On Ranaudo’s improvement on the mound over the past year: “Well, again, when he found the command of the fastball and it came after just a little tweak that we did in the bullpen one day. He was a little upset about the previous game and he just said that he couldn’t feel where he needed to make the adjustments and it was taking him too long to make the adjustments. What we did was make a small little tweak, all we did was turn him on the rubber and have his direction almost starting out on line towards the plate. … Then when he went out three days later and pitched like he did, it was outstanding. … He pitched lights out that time and he was just ecstatic about his command. That was the start of the confidence and another bullpen went really well, another start, another ‘pen, and the next thing you know, we’re expecting a win out of this kid, so the difference between last year and this year was just a matter of confidence.”

On Matt Barnes‘€™ season with the PawSox: “He was up and down most of the first part of the season and almost towards the latter part of it. His last outing, we worked on some things and it’s pretty much the same stuff we worked on all season long, it just seems like it just clicked this past time in the bullpen, and he’s had two or three good bullpens with this and what we’re trying to do is just stay compact instead of getting really long and tilting his back, trying to get his arm in a higher slot. But he’s done a great job working on this in the ‘pen and then carrying it over to the game.”

Read More: Anthony Ranau, henry owens, minor details, Rich Sauveur
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