Photo: Ryan Young

50 in 50: Henry Owens

Draft : : Top Prospects
David Rawnsley        
Published: Friday, May 06, 2011

Henry Owens
LHP / Edison High School

Bats-Throws:                                                 L-L
Height/Weight:                                              6-7/200
Hometown:                                                   Huntington Beach, Calif.
College Commitment:                                   Miami
Birthdate:                                                     July 21, 1992

SCOUTING PROFILE: At first glance, Owens appears to have been created straight out of a Hollywood studio. He’s a bushy-haired, 6-foot-7 lefthander from Huntington Beach with a care-free young personality, and seems to fit the image of both a quirky lefty and laid-back SoCal teenager. But Owens has a competitive baseball fire that belies his outward demeanor, and is the centerpiece of one of the nation’s top high-school teams, Edison High, which also features two other top prospects for the 2011 draft, shortstop Christian Lopes and outfielder Eric Snyder. Owens has been the most heavily-scouted player in that trio, and has been front-and-center in the southern California scouting community since he pitched in the 2009 Area Code Games in nearby Long Beach as a rising high-school junior. Less than three months later, he was named the Most Valuable Pitcher at the 2009 World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., while leading a talented group of underclassmen to the title. Owens has known little but success in high school since his sophomore year at Edison High, when he went 10-1, 1.98. Over the last three years, he has gone 29-3, 1.14, including a 10-0 record this season, although he failed to hold a three-run, last-inning lead in his first outing in May, and came away a winner only when Lopes delivered a game-winning, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, enabling a 21-2 Edison team to clinch its third straight Sunset League title. Owens’ evolution as a prospect has been a bit different than most young pitching prospects. When he turned 17 and was already bumping 90 mph with his gangly build and uncoordinated delivery, scouts envisioned him as a future power pitcher of the highest degree, to a point where Owens might have just changed his middle name at the time to “Projectable” for baseball purposes. The reality, though, is that Owens has evolved into an elite-level “pitcher.” He has gained little velocity over the past two years, and instead has refined his command and delivery. While there are reports that Owens has touched 93 mph this spring, he still pitches mostly in the 89-91 mph range. But his curveball has gone from a soft, 68-mph floater in 2009 to a 74-mph pitch with significantly more power and bite. His 81-mph changeup has also improved significantly, and he throws it much harder now to close the differential on his fastball. While his raw stuff is certainly adequate, what Owens does best is just get hitters out. He has dominated at every level he has pitched, from high school to top national events. When he struck out the side in two consecutive innings at the 2010 Area Code Games, scouts hardly took note as Owens has consistently dominated on the big stage. The key to Owens’ success is threefold. First, he has intimidating size and creates enough deception in his delivery that hitters don’t see the ball well. Second, he has the ability to throw both of his off-speed pitches for strikes with uncanny regularity. Third, he has the approach of a mature big leaguer with his ability to throw his fastball outside the strike zone in just the right place to get hitters to chase it. In the final analysis, he pitches very instinctively to his natural talents. The best comparison to Owens is probably lefthander Tyler Skaggs, a fellow Southern California native (Venice High) who was the 40th overall pick in the 2009 draft. He was later traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Arizona Diamondbacks as the centerpiece in a deal that landed the Angels righthander Dan Haren. Owens should be drafted before Skaggs was, but their profiles and potential are very similar.

Projected Draft Position: End of first round / Early compensation round.

--DAVID RAWNSLEY

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