Shortly after the Boston Red Sox disappointing 4-3 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon, manager John Farrell made the official announcement that LHP Henry Owens will make his major-league debut Tuesday night against the arch-rival New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. The 23-year-old is the top pitching prospect in the Sox system and entered the 2015 season rated as baseball’s 19th-best overall prospect according to MLB.com.
Owens will replace Rick Porcello, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore triceps muscle. The left-hander had a scheduled start Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket in Syracuse, but instead will be focused on the dangerous Yankee lineup.
For Pawtucket, he is 3-8 posting a 3.16 ERA, with 103 strikeouts and 56 walks in 122 1/3 innings, and has held opposing batters to a .193 average.
At Triple-A, he has pitched at least six-innings in each of his last nine starts, restricting the opposition to no more than two runs in seven of those starts. He struck out a season-high nine batters in consecutive starts against Lehigh Valley and Durham, along with a 2.64 ERA in that stretch. After walking a concerning 25 hitters in his first six appearances, including a season-high six in five innings against Syracuse earlier this season, Owens has learned to manage his control and has walked only 18 batters in his last 10 starts.
Here’s a visual look at the Southern California native as he strikes out nine Durham Bulls.
The 6’6”, 220 lb. southpaw becomes the third Red Sox rookie pitcher to make his debut, joining Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson. Rodriguez, is currently still in the rotation after being called-up in late May, will pitch Thursday in the Bronx. Johnson, a former first round pick in 2012, failed to impress in his major-league debut almost two weeks ago. But there are indications that he could be recalled to take Joe Kelly‘s spot in the rotation after a strong outing Sunday. Kelly, has not been satisfactory in 2015 recently claiming his first win in the last eight weeks Saturday against the Rays. He holds a record of 3-6 and posts a gruesome 6.11 ERA in just over 88 IP.
There hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about for Red Sox fans in 2015, but Tuesday night will be a special look at one of the top-rated pitching prospects in baseball. Look for Owens to go right after Yankee batters by getting ahead and staying ahead in the count to avoid base on balls, and using his filthy change-up to induce ground balls and strikeouts.