Waiver Wire: Is Henry Owens Worth a Pick-Up?

Aug 9, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Henry Owens (60) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Highly touted prospects have dominated the headlines in 2015 as every week passes it seems as though another one makes their debut. Henry Owens is just another example of that as the lefty made his debut his debut last week and has shown some flashes over his first two starts.

Coming into 2015, Owens was firmly on the Top-50 prospects lists of all talent evaluators, even ranking as high as the 19th best prospect in all of baseball. It is pretty clear why he ranks so high, as the talent is clearly abundant.

Owens is only 23, so his true talent ceiling may not be fully know at this time, but for this season going forward Owens could potentially fill in nicely into the back end of fantasy rotations. Being nearly 6’7 and a lefty to boot, hitting Owens can be quite the challenge as his frame and delivery all play into the deceptiveness of his pitches.

Owens features a predominant fastball/changeup/curveball at this point of his career. He normally utilizes his fastball and changeup to get him ahead in the counts, and has also began to feature his curveball as more of his out pitch.

Even though his fastball tops out in the lower 90’s, the main struggle for Owens has always been his command. Like in the case of Randy Johnson, it may take a while for a pitcher to be able to harness all the moving parts of a delivery that taller pitchers especially have to and Owens is just another testament to that.

As in the case of any pitcher, it all comes down to getting people out. Even in his rookie year, Owens has shown that ability even though he may not feature some of the more dominant stuff that top prospects may have.

Over his first starts, Owens has found decent success. In his debut against the Yankees, Owens was able to largely silent their bats until he was forced to leave the game and hand the ball over to the bullpen. He only went for five innings, giving up three runs, but only walked one batter.

He was able to also strikeout five batters, a perfectly acceptable clip for a rookie and backend fantasy piece. In his next start against Detroit, Owens did more of the same, he only went for five innings but limited the Tigers to one run, and only three hits.

But, lack of command bit him again as he walked four and was only able to strike out two batters. This will probably be the case with Owens going forward, but that does not mean he should be overlooked.

One of the big reasons Owens was even called up this season, was that he was able to limit his walks this year in the minors, he reduced his walks to a career low three per game. The important thing was that he was showing signs of improvement and development.

Of course the majors will be harder and the batters more patient, but Owens has shown that he can be effectively wild as long as his is able to present his arsenal enough in the zone to keep batters off balance.

I like Owens as an addition because I truly believe that hitters have a hard time picking his release point up. The Red Sox may not let him wander too far into games because of monitoring his innings thrown on the year, but if he can continue to lower his pitch count during the game, he will last more innings of course.

Therefore, from a fantasy perspective, Owens looks as a capable backend arm. I think he can maintain decent K numbers, probably around 5 SO/9, as he gets more starts under his belt and gains confidence. He may be limited to only five innings, but if he continues to build on his success, he will certainly offer some quality starts down the stretch.

The command may scare you at times, and rightfully so. But, there is a thing as being effectively wild, and Owens has been just that. He gets a top heavy Seattle lineup for his next start, so you can either snag him now, or wait and see how he performs. The longer you wait though, the more and more other owners will being to see the same promise and value.