Henry Owens is the Boston Red Sox top pitching prospect, a tall left-hander who combines a mound presence and pitching mix of someone older than 21.
Nearly every adjective has been used to define Owens in three years of professional baseball.
Henry Owens is also mortal.
When he looked to be breezing to another top-notch performance with the Portland Sea Dogs, Owens suddenly lost his command, giving up a pair of two-run homers in the third inning.
Owens still kept his team in the game, and the Sea Dogs eventually rallied for a 9-4 win over the Binghamton Mets at Hadlock Field on Monday night.
Owens did not get the decision for his five innings of work: six hits, four runs, three walks and four strikeouts.
Reliever Robby Scott (1-0) got the win after Portland pounced for six runs in the sixth inning for an 8-4 lead. Sean Coyle led the offense with three hits, including a home run, and three RBI.
So Owens is still 2-0 and after his worst start with the Portland Sea Dogs, his ERA is only 2.04. But Monday was a sign of a still-developing pitcher.
“In the days between (the next start), I’ll work on anything mechanical I need to work on to get back my rhythm and timing, and go from there,” Owens said.
Owens began the season with a 0.00 ERA in two starts (one a six-inning no-hitter). That was coming off 2013 when he finished the season with six starts in Portland (a total of six earned runs).
Owens combines a 90 mph fastball with a plus change-up and solid curve.
“He has an exceptional change-up,” pitching coach Bob Kipper said. “But without the fastball, the change-up becomes less exceptional.”
If Owens is not putting the fastball where he wants it, there can be trouble.
“The ability to control the delivery to the extent he can command his fastball — that is the biggest area in his development,” Kipper said. “Last year it was suspect at times.”
Owens looked improved this year, including the early innings Monday. He allowed one hit and no walks through the first two innings. He retired the first two batters in the third, on five pitches.
But Owens followed that with four elevated fastballs for a walk. Brian Burgamy homered to left. Kevin Plawecki doubled. Matt Clark homered to right center.
Portland trailed 4-2.
“He had difficulty getting the ball down,” Sea Dogs Manager Billy McMillon said. “Hopefully he can learn from it and make some adjustments â€¦ Still, he gave up two two-run home runs, and he’s still able to get five innings.”
Owens gave up one more single in the third. He pitched around a double and walk in the fourth, and a lead-off single in the fifth.
Scouts were in the stands watching Owens.
“It’s like he hit a wall. Just one of those days,” one scout said.
Another, who had seen Owens pitch before, still said “he has all the weapons and he has the mental make-up. He’s going to be a good one.”
Scott, another lefty, may also have a good future if he continues his shutout ways (0.00 ERA in three outings, seven innings). He retired seven straight before yielding a single. Miguel Celestino also gave up only one hit in relief.
Besides Coyle, other offensive leaders included Mookie Betts (2 for 5, now batting .450), Peter Hissey (2 for 4) and Stefan Welch (two RBI).
NOTES: The Red Sox have not announced where or when outfielder Shane Victorino will begin his rehab appearances. Boston Manager John Farrell hinted on Sunday that Victorino may he headed to Portland on Tuesday if he is recovered enough from a strained hamstring. One possible hold-up in the announcement is the forecast for rain in Portland Tuesday night. â€¦ The announced paid attendance was 3,344. â€¦ Owens and Betts were named the Eastern League’s initial Pitcher and Player of the Week of 2014.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:[email protected]Twitter: ClearTheBases