Henry Owens has struck out 22 batters in his last 152/3 innings, including eight Monday. In that time he’s allowed three hits.
That’s one reason the Red Sox like the left-handed Owens so much.
Owens also has walked 14 in the last 152/3 innings.
That’s one reason he’s in Double-A, a promising prospect polishing the rough edges.
Owens, 21 and 6-foot-6, is still the young pup growing into his body while learning to consistently command his array of fastballs, change-ups and occasional curves.
On a drizzly-to-rainy Monday night at Hadlock Field, he again dominated. The Binghamton Mets couldn’t touch Owens’ change-up, flailing at the 78 mph pitches set up by 90 mph fastballs. But Owens again walked too many (four) and threw too many pitches (89), forcing his exit after four innings in the first game of a doubleheader won 4-0 by the Mets.
Owens gave up one run on two hits – one a bunt, the other a broken-bat RBI single in the fourth, scoring a runner who had walked and reached second on a wild pitch.
“Fastball felt good,” Owens said. “Change-up felt good. Curveball felt good.
“The results weren’t good.”
In Owens’ previous start, he allowed no hits and struck out eight. But he again lasted only four innings, with five walks and 87 pitches.
In nine starts this year, Owens has 27 walks and 57 strikeouts in 501/3 innings – a little over one walk every two innings. That’s not much different from his two previous pro seasons, including 68 walks in 135 innings last year.
“I’m trying to get early contact so I can get deeper into ballgames,” Owens said. “I’ll take eight groundouts over eight strikeouts any day.”
Owens’ outings are unpredictable when it comes to walks. When he was called up to Portland last year, he walked a total of six batters in his first three starts, and then issued seven in his fourth start.
This year Owens began with two walks in his first game, which was a six-inning no-hitter, and none in his second start.
Then the base on balls started to show up more and more.
But is it a reason to worry?
We’re talking about a pitcher three years out of high school who has a 3.22 ERA in Double-A while often looking unhittable.
“Continue to focus more on the positives than the negatives, and try and get better,” Owens said.
“Again, my stuff felt great tonight. The results just weren’t there.”
Tall left-handers aren’t known for their control, especially at a young age.
For an example, look at Boston reliever Andrew Miller (6-7, 210 pounds). He has totaled 252 walks in 430 career innings in the majors.
Before he was drafted, scouts compared Owens to another left-hander, former major leaguer Mark Langston, though he was only 6-2.
Langston reached the majors in 1984 at the age of 23. He dominated with a league-leading 204 strikeouts in 225 innings, recording a 17-10 record. He also led the American League with 118 walks.
His walk ratio eventually decreased. Langston went on to win 179 games over 16 years.
Such comparisons are reason to get excited about Owens. He’s not ready yet, which is why he’s in Portland for now.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: