Henry Owens spun a six-inning no-hitter in the Portland Sea Dogs’ rain-shortened season opener. The Boston Red Sox pitching prospect went a step further Thursday, tossing 7 2/3 innings of no-hit ball before finally surrendering a double.
Owens exited Thursday’s game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats after yielding a two-out double to Andy Burns in the eighth inning. The 21-year-old allowed two runs on one hit and five walks while striking out six and improving his record to 4-2. Most importantly, Owens showed again why he’s the Red Sox’s top pitching prospect and an intriguing player with immense potential.
Owens’ ERA at Double-A through seven starts this season is 3.61. His WHIP is 1.18. There’s clearly still room for development — especially when you consider he has yielded 3.8 walks per nine innings after issuing a season-high five free passes Thursday — but the left-hander’s unhittable nature is nothing new. Owens has held his opponents hitless in four starts — two in High-A and two in Double-A — since last July, including Portland’s season opener, in which the lefty struck out nine.
“He left that (changeup) up a little bit and I was able to find a hole,” Burns told reporters after breaking up Owens’ no-hit bid Thursday. “He pitched real well. Mixed speeds. Hit his spots. He’s tall (6-foot-6) and the ball comes out of his hand well.”
Owens threw 96 pitches in Thursday’s outing, showing he was relatively efficient despite the high walk total and some fatigue seemingly settling in as the young hurler struggled in the eighth inning. According to reports, Owens mixed a mid 90s fastball with a heavy dose of changeups to keep the Fisher Cats off-balance.
“Good fastball command. Good change-up command,” Portland manager Billy McMillon told reporters after the game. “But he knows he can do better. His pitch count went up because of the walks.”
Owens went 11-6 with a 2.67 ERA in 26 starts split between Double-A and High-A last season. He has struck out 210 in 177 1/3 innings since the beginning of 2013 while holding opponents to a .185 average.
It might not be long before Owens earns another promotion, and the Red Sox certainly have a lot to be encouraged about as the former first-round pick continues to dominate in his third season in the organization.