- FanGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs -

Henry Owens: Stat Line With Silver Linings

Henry Owens‘ final start of 2012 was a scoreless one. In five innings, the 20-year-old struck out four, allowed eight base runners and a number of hard-hit balls. Minus a run or two, it was a typical start for the left-hander.

This off-season, the chatter on Owens has been less polarizing than expected. Yes, a 3.49 FIP and 11.51 K/9 is impressive. However, his 4.16 BB/9, .350 BABIP and low ground-ball percentage are all troublesome. Owens presented similar to his stat line during a September scouting trip to Greenville, South Carolina.

Video after the jump

Before working through the profile, it’s important to note my look occurred as Owens crossed his innings limit. He looked tired after the rigors of a long minor league season, but one learns more from a pitcher fighting with diminished stuff than when things are clicking on all cylinders.

Owens is a towering presence on the mound. Listed at 6-foot-7, his lanky frame allows for significant projection fueled by dreams of added size and strength.

Athletic for his age and size, the awkwardness associated with most young people his height was noticeable. This allowed Owens to repeat his delivery and arm slot reasonably well, but explains present command issues.

Owens’ fastball sat at 90-92 mph, touching 94 once or twice. The pitch was flat for a left-hander, which speaks to his working max effort to offset lesser stuff. His arm slot negated what should have been excellent downward plane given his height.

When left up in the zone, his fastball was hit hard. Owens being able to maintain consistent velocity throughout makes it easy to envision him sitting 93-95 mph once he fully develops physically, but he’s not there yet. Owens mixed in an 86-88 mph two-seam fastball with a touch of sink as well.

At 66-69 mph, Owens uses a curveball as his primary off-speed pitch. At the Single-A level, the big, slow breaker is effective and responsible for lofty strikeout totals. However, I’m not sure how well the pitch projects. By far, it’s the greatest velocity separation between a fastball and curveball I’ve ever scouted.

For me, a quality curveball features late, sharp break and Owens has it — surprising with his lack of velocity. Additional refinement may include the Red Sox working with him to add a few miles to the offering.

Owens’ third pitch was an acceptable changeup in the 76-80 mph range. His velocity separation from the fastball was significant, but Owens’ delivery slowed when throwing the pitch. However, his arm action was on point and present feel was apparent.

Owens threw the pitch liberally considering his reputation of being a major project when selected in the 2011 draft. If Owens is able to add movement and guide the changeup less, it will profile as at least an average offering.

Henry Owens is the most impressive high school selection to pitch for the Greenville Drive since Casey Kelly in 2009. One can’t help but be enamored with his projection if things break right.

After scouting Owens, envisioning a scenario where the he gains forty pounds, along with increased athleticism at full physical maturity is possible. However, expecting him to add size, velocity, movement and command is asking quite a bit.

If he improves in two areas, Owens moves from borderline top-100 prospect to top-50 status. If marked gains are made in all four, then Owens becomes one of the better left-handed pitching prospects in baseball.