John Farrell: Red Sox Need To Be Patient With Top Prospect Henry Owens

Henry OwensThe Boston Red Sox are going to use the rest of the 2014 season to assess several young pitchers at the major league level. Henry Owens likely isn’t part of those plans.

While Owens has dominated every level of the minors to this point, the Red Sox are preaching patience with their top pitching prospect. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday on WEEI’s “Dale & Holley” that he’d like to see Owens continue to develop at Triple-A Pawtucket before the club considers a big league call-up.

“I think anybody who starts the year in Double-A is on the radar,” Farrell said. “But I will say this, it’s not part of the conversation (Wednesday) to open up this spot in the rotation for when Henry arrives. I think it’s great that he went up to Pawtucket and had an outstanding debut at Triple-A and I think it’s also important to keep perspective that he needs to keep doing it, as we all do. I guess that’s the best and most honest way I can answer it.”

Owens, who made 20 starts with Double-A Portland this season, dominated Monday in his debut with Triple-A Pawtucket. The 22-year-old left-hander allowed just two hits over 6 2/3 shutout innings while striking out nine, showing again why he’s such a highly regarded prospect in the Red Sox system. It doesn’t sound as if the lights-out performance is forcing the Red Sox to reconsider their plans, though, as Boston has several other hurlers with major league experience who will look to prove themselves down the stretch.

“We’ve got a very good-looking, young, left-handed prospect starting pitcher (in Owens), and I think in time he’ll clearly demonstrate that he’s ready for the next challenge, and the first step was a very positive one while at Pawtucket,” Farrell said Wednesday.

The Red Sox’s rotation for the remainder of this season figures to include Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and some combination of Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Allen Webster and Anthony Ranaudo. Next season’s staff is much more up in the air — largely because general manager Ben Cherington already vowed to be aggressive in the starting pitching market this offseason — but the Red Sox clearly need Buchholz to perform better, especially with veterans Jon Lester and John Lackey being dealt before the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline.

Farrell even met with Buchholz on Tuesday to discuss the pitcher’s season-long woes.

“Getting (Buchholz) back on track might be the No. 1 objective as far the rotation goes,” Farrell said Wednesday on WEEI. “When people talk about No. 1 or No. 2 starters, major leaguers perform their way into those roles, because they all have similar abilities. So whether or not if he’s a No. 1 or a No. 5 is depending upon how consistent an individual pitcher is, how durable they become and the level of performance from outing to outing.

“We’ve seen from Clay that there’s elite performance as it’s capable, and yet the one thing that he and I talked about extensively (Tuesday) was just trying to get him back on to the most simple element that a pitcher has under control, and that’s this pitch in this moment, and take away all the other distractions or all the other things that you’re trying to accomplish.”

It’s safe to say the final 50 games of the 2014 regular season represent an open competition for the forward-looking Red Sox. Boston isn’t going to risk compromising its long-term future for any short-term gains, though, even with Owens outperforming every other pitcher in the organization, including Buchholz.

Click for Farrell’s full interview >>

Photo via Twitter/@SoxNH

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