Whatever you call them, Henry Owens has been racking them up in bunches in the South Atlantic League. He struck out seven over four one-hit innings Monday as the Drive blanked the Lakewood Blue Claws, 7-0, at FirstEnergy Park.
After being selected 36th overall in last year's Draft, the 19-year-old left-hander has fanned 36 batters in 18 1/3 frames. That's good for sixth among all Minor Leaguers and six fewer than just-turned-former teammate Matt Barnes, who ranks second. The 6-foot-6 southpaw's 17.7 strikeouts per nine innings unofficially lead the Minors -- Rancho Cucamonga's Garrett Gould ranks second with 16.1.
"Things felt pretty good," Owens said Monday after his fifth outing as a pro. "My fastball was working the corners pretty well and I had a good changeup. That helped get the 'call-me' total up pretty quickly, so that's always good."
Despite the high strikeout total, the California native owned an 11.81 ERA after allowing at least four runs in each of his first four appearances. Against Lakewood, he lowered that mark to 7.85.
Owens blamed his struggles on leaning too heavily on the "call-me."
"Early on, I was trying to strike guys out a lot," he said. "Lately, I've been pitching to contact more, and that's helping to limit my pitches. My goal's always to get to five innings, so that should help with that."
Owens went 12-1 with a 1.15 ERA and 140 strikeouts over 91 2/3 innings at Edison High School in Huntington Beach before Boston selected him with their third first-round pick. He acknowledged he needs some time to transition from high school ball to the pro ranks before he can come close to reproducing those numbers.
"Everyone here can be a No. 3 or No. 4 hitter where I came from," Owens said. "You can't just blow it by people here. You have to set up pitches, throw your contact pitches and try to get outs that way. It's a change I expected, but it's something I'm just starting to get comfortable with."
Yeiper Castillo (1-0) allowed the Blue Claws' other two hits and struck out seven over the final five innings to get the win. Red Sox No. 10 prospect Garin Cecchini went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, while Keury De La Cruz contributed two hits and three RBIs for the Drive.
Lakewood starter Kenny Giles (0-1) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on four hits in four-plus innings. Phillies No. 12 prospect Aaron Altherr doubled, singled and was the only BlueClaw with more than one hit.