Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Matt Barnes - SP
Matt Barnes is no longer with Single-A Greenville thanks to a promotion after his most recent start. Consider this the wrap-up for a brilliant stretch of pitching to begin his professional career. Barnes struck out 42 of the 97 batters he faced, kept all but 16 of them off of the bases entirely, and induced over twice as many groundouts as flyouts. He was flat-out dominant, and Boston moved him up to a place where he might find an actual challenge.
Barnes moving to High-A likely means someone from the Salem rotation is about to get bullpen duty. Drake Britton has one promising start and far more disappointment in his season to this point, and, when combined with last year's struggles and mechanics he can't seem to consistently repeat, he's certainly a candidate for a role change. In his 117 innings at High-A Salem, Britton has a 7.54 ERA and 1.5 K/BB. A move to the pen might do a lot for his future in the game, although nothing is set in stone at this point about just what he'll be doing or who Barnes will be replacing.
Henry Owens - SP
Owens has been fascinating, even with his 7.85 ERA. That's because he's striking out 17.7 batters per nine, an absurd figure in almost any inning total. He has 36 punch outs in half as many frames, and despite walking nearly seven batters per nine, his K/BB ratio is in desirable territory.
That's not suggesting the strikeout rate is going to sustain him -- or that the walk rate will continue to be that significant of a problem. He's all of 19, and in his first taste of professional baseball. We have no idea what he's going to be, and he's so young and so raw that the Red Sox just have ideas of what they'd like him to become.
His last two starts have gone well, with Owens giving up just two runs in his last seven-plus frames. To go along with that, he had 14 strikeouts against six walks and hits. It doesn't sound like much when you see the free passes, but consider that in his first three starts, with the same whiff and walk rates, he allowed 14 runs and 16 hits, you can see why it looks encouraging.
He's a project pitcher, one who hasn't grown into his body, and who at 19 isn't going to be throwing longer starts like Barnes did. There's no rush on getting him to Salem, either, and for all his early struggles, he's shown plenty of aptitude on talent alone.
Miguel Pena - SP
Pena was selected in the 2011 draft along with Barnes and Owens, but unlike that pair, he had already made his pro debut before this season. The sixth-round lefty threw 15 innings for Low-A Lowell, over two starts and three relief appearances, and came away with 22 strikeouts against three walks for his time.
Things have started out well for Pena after a promotion, with his K/BB numbers mostly intact. The strikeout rate has fallen to 7.9 per nine, but the control he has featured in his short time as a pro remains, giving him 1.4 walks per nine and a 5.7 K/BB. Like many young pitchers at this level, the 21-year-old is making both starts and relief appearances.
Pena doesn't have a ton of velocity, even for a lefty, sitting in the high-80s with an ability to touch the 90s. He does have fantastic control, though, and if he can get his curveball, slider, or change-up to work as quality secondary stuff, he'll be able to succeed with that control.
Don't be overly-excited by his numbers just yet, if only because a pitcher who can put every pitch where they want to is going to carve through low minors lineups. If he keeps it up, he'll move up the ladder soon enough, and face the more imposing prospects that will test if his stuff is anywhere near the quality of his control.
Apologies for the differing tables -- Baseball-Reference appears to be having an issue with their table exporting for players with one year of experience in the minors.