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Sports

September 1, 2013

The Natural and his less known battery mate

The lanky 6-foot-6 southpaw Henry Owens — a first-round pick in 2011 — is dominating Double-A competition at just 21 years old.

His 23-year-old battery mate, Christian Vazquez, is a huskier 5-foot-9 ninth-rounder from the 2008 draft. He’s less well known but just as intriguing to some onlookers.

They are two of the Red Sox’ most interesting prospects.

Owens, who some consider the best pitching prospect in the organization, dominated at Single-A Salem this year. At one point he hurled 19.1 consecutive hitless innings over parts of four starts. He since has been promoted to Double-A Portland where he is 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA in five starts.

As for Vazquez, his defense has always been his strength. But he has improved offensively this year. He entered Friday batting .289 with a .375 on-base percentage, five homers and 45 RBIs.

Here is a closer look at pitcher and catcher:

Henry Owens: The Natural

Baseball America ranks Henry Owens’ change-up the best in Boston’s minor league system.

Owens’ father never let him throw a curveball as a youngster for fear it would damage his son’s arm. Needing a secondary pitch, Owens learned the change-up.

He brought the heat much more than his offspeed pitch during his high school career at Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif.

It wasn’t until professional ball when he began developing his curveball ... and using his change-up more.

So which of his three quality pitches does he consider his out pitch?

“My out pitch is my fastball, curveball and change-up,” Owens said in all seriousness.

You have to admire that confidence. Owens has worked a great deal on his curve with Salem pitching coach Kevin Walker.

“And I got a good feel for it and it’s played well up here (in Double-A) so far,” Owens said.

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