The Diamondbacks have claimed former Red Sox top prospect Henry Owens on waivers. This is a low risk, high reward move for the Snakes that could pay off. As a left-handed pitcher, Henry Owens boasts a 5 pitch mix of a fastball, changeup, slider, curveball, and sinker. His changeup and fastball are his best pitches, with his fastball averaging 89. As a 6’6″ left-handed pitcher, his fastball is very deceptive. Up to this point, Henry Owens has failed to live up to his status as a top prospect. In 16 starts in the MLB for the Red Sox, Owens had a 5.19 ERA. Owens has shown promise in the minors with a 3.49 ERA though. Current D-Backs GM, Mike Hazen, was part of the team in Boston that drafted Owens. Owens struggles have come from his inability to consistently throw strikes with a 4.9 BB/9 throughout his career.
How he fits with the Diamondbacks
The deciding factor will be if the Diamondbacks pitching coaches can help reduce Owen’s walks. The Diamondbacks currently have depth in the rotation, yet having excess quality starting pitchers is a good problem to have. If Henry Owens can learn to find the strike zone more consistently, he could be an effective 4th or 5th arm in the rotation. Another factor is the development of his slider. As a lefty, Owens could dominate lefties and have a third offering to keep batters guessing.
Owens could also benefit from a move to the bullpen. As a guy who struggles to throw strikes, the bullpen could be the place for him to figure it out. With the loss of Jorge De La Rosa, Henry Owens could be a helpful left-handed bullpen piece. The D-Backs have also had success turning struggling top starting pitching prospects into effective relievers, such as Archie Bradley.
With Chris Iannetta signing a 2 year deal with the Colorado Rockies, the D-Backs lost their best offensive catcher from their trio last year that also included Chris Herrmann and Jeff Mathis. With Herrmann hitting .181 and Mathis hitting .215 last year, losing Chris Iannetta’s offensive output hurts a little more. This move, or lack thereof, from the Diamondbacks front office indicates they are content with the catchers they have going forward. Mike Hazen has shown that he values pitch framing and defense greater than offense from the catcher position. The Diamondbacks team ERA went from dead last in the MLB at 5.09 to third at 3.66. While catching most likely wasn’t the only factor that went into the dramatic change, it is one clear variable that can easily be seen. Without Iannetta, the Diamondbacks will most likely head into 2018 with Herrmann and Mathis behind the plate. While veterans normally don’t drastically improve their batting line, Herrmann has strong potential to improve at the plate. Herrman was in the 89th percentile for exit velocity in 2017, showing that he was making hard contact and could have been unlucky. Still, it’s surprising to see Iannetta go after finishing ahead of Herrmann in pitch framing rankings, according to StatCorner, and having a solid offensive year.
After a great year of many clutch hits, D-Backs fans must root against him as he re-joins the rival Rockies.
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