LHP Owens excited for big league Sox camp

BOSTON -- For Boston Red Sox pitching prospect Henry Owens, spring training last year played an integral role in his 2013 success.

Less than two years removed from high school at the time and working out alongside college-proven pitchers such as Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo, Owens felt he had a lot to learn, mainly with preparation.

"They were in college, they were on a lifting program," Owens said. "It was almost like I'd lift to look good, not lift to play good. Seeing them in them weight room, really focus on attacking their legs and getting their core stronger, stuff like that, I think it's all benefited me in some ways."

Owens went on to post career-high numbers across the board on his way to being named Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year. Now, four weeks away from this year's spring training, Owens will be making the trip to Fort Myers with the rest of the big league staff as a major league invite.

"It's very exciting, I personally can't wait to get around, see all the veterans, see how they work and see what I can gain from them," Owens said. "I'm excited to see how my pitching forte matches up against the big league guys."

Owens said he's looking forward to picking the brain of left-handed pitcher Jon Lester. Still just 21 years old, Owens said he feels there's a lot that he could learn from being around the major league pitching staff.

"I'm all ears, I'm ready for anything they have to give me or feed me," he said.

After spending the offseason working out back home in California with Cody Kukuk, a Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect in the lower minors, Owens said Friday that he now weighs between 210 to 215 pounds, nearly 30 more than when he signed. With the added bulk on his 6-foot-7 frame, Owens said keeping everything in sync is the key to his success.

"My mechanics haven't really changed at all," Owens said. "I've just been focusing on every offseason getting stronger and then through the season maintaining strength."

Owens made 26 starts between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland last year, going 11-6 while leading Boston's farm system with a 2.67 ERA and 169 strikeouts. His .177 opponent batting average led all full-season minor league qualifiers.

"I think he probably had to learn in his first year that his stuff is pretty good and that he can throw it in the strike zone and get guys out really effectively and I think that was something he made a nice adjustment with in his second full season," Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said. "He gained a lot of confidence coming out of that first year instruction league and then having a good spring training."

Now entering his third full season and projected to start the year at Double-A Portland, Owens is hoping to continue on the fast track toward the majors this year.

"I think if I go out and do my job on the mound, I just want to make it hard on them to make the decision," Owens said. "I can only control what I can control.

"My gears are ready to go. I want the season to start tomorrow."