In recent years, the Red Sox have become very strong in the development of right-handers and have several excellent prospects. However, one can’t count out the fact that they have a number of left-handed pitchers that could very well become major league stars one day. Quality left-handers are obviously harder to come by, but the Red Sox have done a good job of picking some guys with very bright futures. Among these names are the hard-throwing Henry Owens and Drake Britton and the soft-tossing, control-oriented Chris Hernandez.
1. Henry Owens- Owens’ first season in professional baseball was by no means flashy. However, if one digs into the stats from his 2012 season, spent at Single-A Greenville, there’s a lot to like. First and foremost is the fact that Owens is a strikeout machine, punching out a remarkable 11.51 per nine innings as a 20 year old. His ERA was a bit high at 4.87, but he’s still raw and had some issues with the walk at 4.16 per nine; however, that’s to be expected from a 20 year old in his first season playing everyday. Scouts view Owens as incredibly projectable, and he has a fantastic pitcher’s frame at 6’7″ and 200 lbs, and it looks like he could anchor a Red Sox rotation in the next few years.
2. Drake Britton- After a very promising start to his minor league career, Britton hit a wall in 2011 and fell straight down to a 1-13 record and 6.91 ERA at High-A Salem. At the beginning of the 2012 season, it was looking like his days as a top prospect may be done. However, he salvaged his season (and possibly career), pitching well at Salem before being promoted to Double-A Portland and pitching to a 3.72 ERA in 16 starts there. Overall, his season numbers were respectable, as he finished with a 7-12 record and 4.45 ERA. However, beyond the stats, there’s a lot to like about Britton. The lefty is a hard thrower, reaching the mid 90’s, and has a decent curveball. He may be destined for the bullpen, but he’ll try to disprove those rumors in 2013, presumably starting at Portland.
3. Chris Hernandez- Hernandez isn’t a guy on a ton of scouts’ radars, but I feel that he has a potentially very promising career. He isn’t a hard thrower, and apart from a good cutter, doesn’t really have excellent secondary pitches. However, he’s had success at every level of the minor leagues since being drafted in 2010 and that didn’t change in 2012. The 23 year old pitched to a 4-8 record and 3.13 ERA at Portland before being promoted to Pawtucket, where he put up a 3.59 ERA in 8 games (7 starts). Scouts think he’s destined for the bullpen, but I think the Red Sox should continue to start Hernandez as long as he has success, and that hasn’t stopped yet.
It’s true that the Red Sox don’t have quite the arsenal of lefties that some teams do. However, it’s hard to deny that there’s nothing there. Henry Owens (the Red Sox’ #9 prospect according to SoxProspects), Drake Britton (#12), and Chris Hernandez (#37) all have some excellent tools that could play well into long, successful careers. Look out for these guys in a few years, they may surprise you.