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Owens strikes out 11 in Double-A debut

Red Sox prospect pitches six scoreless innings for Sea Dogs
August 3, 2013

Major League veteran Jake Peavy made a stellar debut in front of the Fenway Park faithful on Saturday night, but he wasn't the only Red Sox pitcher making a strong first impression.

More than 400 miles away from Boston, in Bowie, Md., Henry Owens produced one of the best starts of his career in his Double-A debut with Portland.

The Red Sox's No. 4 prospect recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and allowed four hits over six innings to pitch the Sea Dogs to a 6-1 win over the Baysox.

Owens (1-0) walked two batters and threw 61 of 95 pitches for strikes. He mixed his fastball, changeup and breaking ball in a way that impressed Portland manager Kevin Boles.

"If he had any jitters, he sure didn't show it," Boles said. "That's one thing. He had a plan. His mix for a [21-year-old], to be so unpredictable with that three-pitch mix was very impressive."

Owens, who turned 21 on July 21, went 8-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 20 starts for Class A Advanced Salem. He struck out 123 and walked 53 over 104 2/3 innings, allowing only six homers while holding opponents to a .180 batting average.

Promoted earlier this week, he found success in his Eastern League debut, despite working with men on base most of the night. The lanky left-hander put runners on in five of his six innings, including the leadoff batter in three of them.

"He had to pitch out of the stretch quite a bit tonight and worked out of some jams," Boles said. "He maintained his mound presence and his command and executed all three of his pitches. He maintained a real good tempo and he showed three real weapons."

In the first, Owens got Kyle Hudson to ground out, but then allowed a single to Trayvon Robinson and walked Buck Britton. He escaped his first Eastern League squeeze by striking out Caleb Joseph and getting Brandon Waring to fly to center field.

Owens again found trouble in the second when Seth Loman reached on a dropped third strike and Luis Martinez followed with a single. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native got Josh Horton to fly out, Chris Pettit to line out and struck out Hudson to end the frame.'s No. 57 overall prospect also allowed the leadoff man to reach in the third, fourth and sixth innings.

In the third, Robinson doubled but was stranded when Owens retired Britton on a fly ball and struck out Joseph and Waring. Loman drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, but consecutive flyouts by Martinez and Horton and a Pettit strikeout stranded the Bowie first baseman. After striking out the side in the fifth, Owens surrendered a leadoff single to Joseph in the sixth before striking out Horton and retiring Pettit and Hudson on ground balls.

Owens worked his entire repertoire, and Boles said the southpaw seemed to be on the same page with catcher Christian Vazquez. The manager noted that Owens showed up with a game plan in mind, and his success was largely a credit to that.

"If you look at Henry out on the mound, he knows what he's doing," Boles said. "He has an advanced approach. It's just from one outing, but it looks like a very advanced approach to pitching at such a young age.

"He seems like a very bright kid. ... His game makeup, from what we saw, was above-average tonight. He wants the ball. There's no fear of contact. He attacks the zone, and he had a lot of pluses going for him."

Travis Shaw staked Owens to the lead in the second with a two-run homer, his second in as many games. Vazquez contributed three hits and scored a run, while J.C. Linares doubled twice, drove in two runs and scored twice for the Sea Dogs.

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.