MLB Draft Profiles: Henry Owens
August, 24, 2010
By Ben Fawkes | ESPN Insider
Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMIHenry Owens is ready for whatever his future holds, whether it be an MLB contract or college ball.When prompted for a major league comparison for star pitcher Henry Owens, high school coach Steve Lambright doesn't hesitate: "Randy Johnson."
While Owens personally likens himself to Cole Hamels, his physical stature and pitching prowess certainly resemble Johnson, as the Edison H.S. (Huntington Beach, Calif.) senior already stands 6-foot-5, throws left-handed and wears size-17 shoes.
Owens' physically intimidating presence on the mound doesn't determine his personality off the field, though. "He's real laid back, a funny guy with a surfer mentality," says Lambright. "But when he steps between the lines, it's all business."
That business-like approach has helped Owens dominate high school hitters. After going 9-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings as Edison's No. 2 pitcher his sophomore year, Owens fared even better as Edison's ace this past season: He went 9-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. He registered double-digit strikeouts in eight of his 11 starts and led his team to its second consecutive Sunset League Championship en route to being named pitcher of the year in the league.
Those impressive stats helped Owens earn All-Orange County honors -- for the second straight season -- from the Orange County Register, third-team All-America honors and led ESPN's Keith Law to describe him as "the best prep arm in California" in his <a href="" target="new">first look at the 2011 MLB draft.
With such praise comes the added pressure of pitching in front of major league scouts and in big games; neither of these obstacles fazes Owens. "I don't really get nervous," Owens says. "I just try to not overthrow and give my team a chance to win, make sure to get ahead of batters and throw first-pitch strikes."
Why is Owens so effective? "He'll touch 90-91 [mph] on his fastball, but the ball has a fishtail on it. I think his biggest strength isn't just the velocity, but the movement on the baseball," Lambright says. "He can throw his breaking ball over, we're trying to teach him a slider and mix in his changeup. Any high school pitcher that throws 90-plus, there's going to be a lot of upside."
Major league scouts agree with Lambright. As one AL scout put it: "We all like big left-handers throwing 90 and above, it almost doesn't matter what else they can do, we're going to take a look. But this kid can pitch, he's got life on the fastball and he's going to be able to move the ball around the strike zone."
An NL scout added: "He's a three-pitch guy whose best stuff is in the future. He can throw all three pitches for strikes, is willing to throw all three, and his fastball can be from 88-92."
Although Owens' raw tools are impressive, he still has a few areas in which he can improve. Much like the Big Unit when he was younger, Owens' main problem has been with his control. Lambright notes, "As a freshman he was real raw. I mean he threw as many balls as he did strikes. He would walk as many guys as he would strike out."
Owens agrees with his coach: "When I was a freshman on varsity, I basically just caught the ball and threw it. I was kind of a thrower, but over the past two years I've really learned how to be a pitcher, to pitch spots and remember that there is a purpose to every pitch."