In 2014, Henry Owens was the frontline starter in the making. He won 14 games for the Sea Dogs with a 2.60 ERA.

But years of adjustments and wildness followed.

Three seasons later, Owens is back in Portland, trying to end the tinkering and find a consistent path back to the major leagues.

Owens, who had started 16 games for Boston over the two previous seasons, has not seen Fenway this year. Instead, Owens was sent from Triple-A Pawtucket to the Double-A Sea Dogs on Monday.

“It was time for a change,” said Ralph Treuel, the Red Sox minor league pitching coordinator.

“Coming down here, maybe starting with a clean slate … It will free him up a little more.”


Owens, 24, will eventually join the Sea Dogs’ rotation. His first start is tentatively scheduled for July 3 in Hartford. Until then, Owens will be working on his delivery.

The idea is for Owens to become more consistent with a three-quarters angle.

Owens called it a “low three-quarters slot.”

“There had been discussion in the past about it. Just mild discussions,” Owens said. “But with the struggles over the top and the inconsistencies – one outing a lot of walks, the next outing kind of power through it …

“In terms of repeating the arm slot, I was having difficulty doing that. Not so much with the off-speed, but more with the fastball, which is the one pitch I need to command the most.”

Owens, a 6-foot-6 left-hander, had struggled with consistency.


A top prospect in 2014 – drafted 36th overall in 2011 out of high school – Owens looked sharp in Portland, striking out 126 and walking 47 in 121 innings.

But the walks began to mount in Pawtucket.

In 2015, Owens walked 56 (1221/3 innings). Last year: 81 walks (1372/3 innings).

This year, Owens had already walked 60 batters in 69 innings. Still, he has stuff – 72 strikeouts and opponents hitting only .224. But Owens could never figure out his delivery.

“The last two, three spring trainings, there was a lot of tinkering,” Owens said. “Last year, every two or three starts, there were mechanical adjustments.”

Even when Owens was pitching in the majors last season, he was tinkering.


“I remember before a start against the Yankees, that week I threw a bullpen almost completely different than I had thrown in the past,” he said.

But now he’s working on a whole new look.

“In terms of arm slot, I’ve never dropped my arm and tried that,” Owens said.

“I do believe it’s my natural arm slot because, in pitchers’ fielding practice, when I throw to first base or second base, my instinct has always been to throw it sidearm.”

It is not unheard of for pitchers with major league time to come down to Double-A. Clay Buchholz reached Boston at the end of 2007 and threw a no-hitter. He began 2008 with the Red Sox, slumped and eventually came down to Portland.

Pitchers in other organizations have been up and down.


“I’ve played with plenty of dudes who have had more adversity than this and they had success at the major league level,” Owens said. “I’m going to be optimistic, stay positive and keep working hard.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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