Red Sox Henry Owens Too Valuable To Trade?


The Boston Red Sox seem to continue making news without having to do anything. By not having a true ace starting pitcher in the rotation, trade rumors swirl over spring training preparations in Fort Myers, Florida. Having top prospects like lefty Henry Owens seems to many rumor mills like money burning a hole in someone’s pocket.‘s Rob Bradford interviewed Owens yesterday about the trade talks that may or may not be happening. “Because of his continued success — having gone 40-16 with a 3.34 ERA in three minor league seasons — Owens will also continue to be included in trade rumors, such as the ones currently floating about involving Phillies ace Cole Hamels.”

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Success always breeds talk, but it is something the 22-year-old from Huntington Beach, California is becoming used to hearing. “My family wil be like, ‘Did you see that?’ But I don’t pay attention to any of that,” Owens was quoted as saying, while preparing for his second spring training with the Red Sox. “Halfway through camp [in 2014] I just wanted to get ready for the season, knowing there weren’t any spots. I just wanted to develop, not really competing for a spot. Now, coming into camp it’s a little different. I want to show them I’m ready.”

The Red Sox drafted Owens in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft, expecting great things from the 6’6” pitcher, and he has not disappointed. This season, however, could be his breakout year. Specifically for Triple-A Pawtucket, Owens started 6 games, earning a 3-1 record, with 44 strikeouts to only 12 walks. He did give up 4 home runs, which helped attribute to the 4.03 ERA, but much of that occurred through some hanging fastballs. However, according to Bradford, “the lefty actually cites fastball command as the part of his game that has taken the biggest leap over the past year.” recorded opposing teams batting only .227 against Owens, but he gave up .301 when the ball is put in play. Between his delivery from such a tall stature on the mound, keeping the ball down will only further his dominance. You can’t get a base hit if you can’t hit the ball.

If Owens can show the Red Sox that he is truly ready to make those adjustments, should they really trade him?

A Henry Owens is not a Cole Hamels. Few pitchers are. But the bigger picture is that Owens is a luxury that few teams have: a young pitcher who is coachable, confident, and seems primed to take the next step. He likely is not ready to take a spot on the rotation in April, as Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington spent time, money, and trade bait to obtain the other starting pitchers. A bullpen opportunity is more realistic, as a jumping point. Yet, Owens seems built to be a starter, and may need more experience in that role in Pawtucket, at least for the spring, before making that leap into the big leagues.

Can the Red Sox hold out until then? If they can, they might have the next Randy Johnson waiting in the wings. If they drafted Owens that high, why not see where his talent goes? If Boston’s blooming pitching staff starts to fade early, they will need all the pitching talent they can muster, not just for this season, but beyond. One high-priced left-handed ace could solve that problem, but one much-cheaper and talented left-hander could help and free up cash for other pitcher signings. What will eventually happen is anyone’s guess. All that Owens knows for sure is that he is a member of the Red Sox right now and it is his job to put up and shut others up, regardless of the mouths moving around him.