Left-hander Henry Owens allowed three runs in four innings on Thursday. (Jillian Souza/Pawtucket Red Sox)

Red Sox minor league roundup: Putting a bow on the season of Henry Owens

September 12, 2014 - 9:20 am
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On Wednesday night, Triple-A Pawtucket stood one inning from a commanding 2-0 lead in the Govrrnor's Cup Finals against Durham. But a ninth-inning blown save served as a prelude to an extra-innings loss, and now, after a 4-3 loss in Durham on Thursday (box), the PawSox must win consecutive games in the park of Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate to win the best-of-five International League championship. Among the prospect performances by the PawSox, there was little of note. Left-hander Henry Owens capped a brilliant 2014 campaign with an anticlimactic performance that bore resemblance to much of his work in eight year-ending Triple-A starts. He gave up just three hits in four innings, but included among those knocks were a pair of extra-base hits. After a largely dazzling year in which pitching into the seventh became a commonplace occurrence for him, Owens finished the season with back-to-back four-inning outings in the International League playoffs in which he permitted a total of eight earned runs in eight innings with six walks and 11 punchouts. Certainly, he was hit harder in Triple-A (where 19 of the 43 hits he allowed (44 percent) went for extra bases, including five for homers in 46 innings) than Double-A (30 of 89 hits (34 percent) for extra bases, with six homers in 121 innings), but it's unclear whether that reflected the stiffer competition or the fact that Owens flew past his previous innings high of 135, jumping up 24 percent to a total of 168 between Double-A, Triple-A and the All-Star Futures Game. Owens did show the ability to get swings and misses in Pawtucket, with 10.8 punchouts per nine, but he finished the year with a cumulative 4.89 ERA in Triple-A. That mark does little to detract from his upside or even his floor. An evaluator from an NL team who saw Owens recentl suggested that the quality of his fastball and his outstanding changeup make him a near certainty to be a solid rotation contributor; at times when he commands his curveball, he looks like a strong mid-rotation starter, with the upside (depending on whom one asks) of a No. 3 or No. 2 starter. At 22, he's built his innings to the point where he'll be in position to contribute through a full big league season next year. Just three years removed from high school, Owens is in the advanced stages of his minor league development -- but there will be more development in front of him for 2015. He has given himself an outstanding foundation to take the final Triple-A steps next year, remaining on track for a potential big league ETA of the middle of next year. Owens did not dominate Triple-A as he had Salem and Portland, but the fact that he was in position to compete there at his age said plenty about where he's come in a very, very short period of time. Other performances (and non-performances) of note: -- Rusney Castillo got a day off after playing nine innings in back-to-back contests on Tuesday and Wednesday. He'll be back in the lineup on Friday. -- Third baseman Garin Cecchini went 1-for-4 with a double. He has 14 extra-base hits in 32 games in August and September; he had just 17 extra-base hits in the prior four months. -- Catcher Blake Swihart went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. The 22-year-old has hits in all four of his playoff games, showing the ability to produce in the face of a career-high workload. Swihart has now played 114 regular season and postseason games this year after appearing in 108 last year.

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