Red Sox former pitching prospect Henry Owens claimed by Dodgers
By Sean Penney
Former Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Henry Owens has been claimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers after being waived by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Left-handed pitcher Henry Owens is moving on to his third organization of the month after the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed him off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Arizona had previously claimed Owens off waivers from the Boston Red Sox earlier this month.
Once a top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization, the shine on Owens has long since faded away. He owns a 4-6 record and 5.19 career ERA over 16 big league starts with the Red Sox.
Owens showed potential rising through the Red Sox farm system but his minor league success never translated to the majors. His shaky control of the strike zone completely unraveled this season when he walked 128 batters, hit 22 more with a pitch and unleashed 18 wild pitches in 147 1/3 minor league innings.
The Red Sox spent much of the first half of last season scrambling to fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation left vacant by injuries. A revolving door of pitchers took the mound in that spot yet Owens wasn’t among those given the opportunity. When picking Doug Fister up off the scrap heap proves to be the best solution over giving Owens a chance it’s clear the former prospect’s time in the organization was over.
Owens was briefly reunited with Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo, both of whom were familiar with the lefty from their time in Boston. That they gave up on Owens so quickly doesn’t bode well for his future.
The Dodgers may believe they can refine his mechanics to put the career of Owens back on track. They have the luxury of starting him in Triple-A given that he has a minor league option remaining and could be counted on to make a spot start at some point next season. They have little to lose by getting a look at Owens to see if they can straighten him out. Pitching in the spacious pitcher-friendly Dodgers Stadium certainly wouldn’t hurt.
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At this point it still seems to be a long shot that Owens ever establishes himself as as a major league starting pitcher. His fastball velocity that barely cracks 90 mph was serviceable in the minors but won’t cut it in the big leagues. Without the ability to blow a fastball by hitters, Owens needs to take a crafty approach that relies on location, yet he lacks the pinpoint control to make that strategy work.
The best chance Owens has of sticking in the majors may be converting to the bullpen. Perhaps he could dial up the velocity as a reliever so that he wouldn’t need to nibble on the corners as much, which should reduce the escalating number of walks he allows. He certainly wouldn’t be the first failed starting pitcher to thrive in a relief role.
Besides, which team couldn’t use an extra lefty in the bullpen? The Red Sox are essentially doing the same with Brian Johnson. He’s out of minor league options so they need to keep him on the 25-man roster but he’s not quite talented enough to warrant giving a rotation spot to. He can pitch long relief so that he’s prepared to jump in if the Red Sox need a spot start or he can develop into a lights-out lefty specialist.
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It’s unclear what plans the Dodgers have in store for Owens but you can at least see a glimmer of hope in how he can still succeed by following a similar path to the one his former PawSox teammate is on in Boston.