BOSTON (CBS) — By now, all Red Sox fans are familiar with Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., but it may be time to get acquainted with Henry Owens.
The 21-year-old left-hander made his season debut for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday night, and what a mighty debut it was.
Owens allowed zero hits in his six innings of work while striking out nine batters and walking just two. Unfotunately for Owens, the game was called due to rain, ending his night after 86 pitches.
Owens did most of his strikeout damage against the top of the order for the Reading Fightin Phils. Owens struck out the leadoff hiter, the No. 3 hitter and the No. 5 hitter twice each.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound pitcher was drafted by the Red Sox in the first round (36th overall) in the 2011 draft. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native went 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA in six starts at the Double-A level last year. Prior to that, he went 8-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 20 starts for High-A Salem, earning Red Sox 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in he process.
Portland catcher Blake Swihart, the organization’s top catching prospect, had quite the night as well, as he 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI. Second base prospect Mookie Betts went 4-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored in what turned out to be a rain-shortened 5-0 win.
Given the Red Sox stable of starting pitchers at the big league level, Owens will likely be given all the time he needs to develop in the minor league system. But he is a prospect to keep an eye on this season and next. He’ll turn 22 years old in July, and considering Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz were both 22 years old when they made their MLB debuts in 2006 and 2007, respectively, this may be the year that Owens makes a start or two for the big club.
A few more performances like Thursday’s, and the team will have no choice.