FORT MYERS, Fla. — Time feels like it’s running out on Henry Owens.

Owens came to Fort Myers this spring as a once-touted prospect who pitched parts of three seasons in Triple-A but has flopped in 16 major league starts. His inability to consistently throw strikes has undermined whatever he might have to offer as a potential big league starting pitcher. That hasn’t changed this spring.

Owens issued four walks and threw almost as many balls (30) as strikes (31) in 21/3 innings pitched Saturday for a Red Sox split-squad team against Minnesota.

That split-squad Red Sox team suffered a 13-0 defeat at the hands of the Twins. Owens has issued 12 walks in 71/3 innings this spring.

“The strike-throwing has got to improve,” Manager John Farrell said.

Such a walk rate all but precludes a big-league call-up anytime soon. It’s almost unthinkable that were a need to arise, the Red Sox would call upon Owens over Kyle Kendrick (10 strikeouts, three walks) or even the newly signed Hector Velazquez (six strikeouts, two walks).

Still, the Red Sox aren’t as ready to pull the plug on Owens as one might think.

“There’s a long history of left-handers that have arrived at various times throughout the course of his career,” Farrell said. “There’s a long list of pitchers that, when they’re in their late 20s, have kind of harnessed it.”

That lefties can take longer to develop than righties is a baseball truism. Hall of Fame lefties Randy Johnson and Sandy Koufax are the classic examples. Reliever Andrew Miller is one of the most recent examples.

Generally, though, the truism doesn’t stand up to history. The list starts to dry up after Johnson, Koufax and Miller. Of pitchers who have pitched at least 162 innings in a season since 1961, the proportion of lefties actually is higher for those who are 25 and younger (30.3 percent) than those who are 26 and older (29.3 percent). If anything, it’s the righties who catch up in their late 20s.

Red Sox aces David Price and Chris Sale both have compiled sub-3.00 ERAs in at least 25 starts in the major leagues at ages 25 or younger in recent years, as has Madison Bumgarner of San Franciso – and all three have the same long frame as Owens.

Still, especially considering their lack of pitching depth in the upper levels of the minor leagues, Boston will stick with Owens.

“We owe it to the player to continue to work to get the most out of him,” Farrell said.

The ugly outing Saturday could prompt Owens and the Red Sox to try adjustments a bit more drastic than they tried previously.

Owens said after his start that he planned to talk to Price about his delivery, one of the simplest and most repeatable in the game.

“That’s going to be some side work that’s obviously required,” Farrell said. “It could be more of a shorter drop-step – or a drop-step with beginning the movement of the delivery to be over the rubber a little bit more. It’s just minimizing the movement to gather some rhythm into the delivery.”