Henry Owens, LHP
Owens' season remains strong as a whole, but he's hit something of a rough patch lately. He allowed five runs in two innings on July 5 coming off of three runs in five the start prior, and hasn't struck out more than he's walked in any of his last three starts. A little mid-season slide is just something that happens, though, and as Owens is just 20, you can't necessarily expect him to end-to-end dominate a level in which he's essentially a baby.
If Owens continues to scuffle, it's a reminder that, given where he is developmentally, he might be closer to the likes of Trey Ball and Ty Buttrey in terms of his place in Boston's future, rather than, say, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, and so on. Just one level separates Owens from the elder pair, but, from the looks of it, Barnes is going to need another year with Portland, and it already took Ranaudo two years at the level to put on a convincing need for a promotion, one he still hasn't received. There's little rush with Owens -- who isn't even Rule 5-eligible until 2015 -- and while he might be something of a tweener developmentally given he's younger than Barnes and Co. but more experienced than those closer to his age, he could very well be separate from any wave of pitching talent that comes to the Red Sox over the next five years. With his stuff, at his size, Owens could be plenty of a wave all by himself if things continue to work out, at least.
Henry Ramos, RF
Ramos continues to excel after a very slow start to the season. He posted a 555 OPS in April and a better-but-not-great 726 mark in May, but then in June mashed to the tune of .326/.400/.536 with four homers and 10 extra-base hits overall, and has continued to smack the ball around with ease this month, in which he's currently batting .321/.381/.518 with another two long balls. Remember, too, that the average hitter in the Carolina League has a .256/.334/.386 line this year: even with Ramos' early problems at the plate, he's managed to exceed that with room to spare.
As a soccer player who didn't commit fully to baseball until he turned pro, it's understandable it would take Ramos some time to get going in a noticeable way. He's kept strikeouts low, though, with 17 percent on the year and about 15 percent since the calendar turned over to June. Walks are coming in roughly 11 percent of the time, and he's drawn 19 free passes against 25 strikeouts during his two-month stretch of excellence. He's coming along nicely, and might end up in a situation like Christian Vazquez last year, where he was promoted after a lengthy and great stretch even with his season line looking just okay. There's only so much to learn at each level, and sticking around long enough to make a line more aesthetically pleasing makes no sense.
Keury De La Cruz, OF
Remember when De La Cruz was in the process of boosting his line thanks to batting .387 in June? Well, the batting average in balls in play luck that helped to buoy what was an otherwise unimpressive line has vanished, and De La Cruz finds himself with a 559 OPS thus far in July. The walks, for once haven't been a problem for him, as he's drawn five in 14 games, but he has just one extra-base hit and 11 hits overall for the month.
It's poor timing for him to slip at the plate, especially when you consider the Red Sox were just able to trade Brandon Jacobs for Matt Thornton following a successful uptick in his previously lame production. De La Cruz is also Rule 5-eligible this off-season, and while he doesn't have the same chance of being claimed, he's still a potential trade piece for a club that remembers his breakout 2012, and dreams on him developing some plate patience to go along with his ability to put the ball in play.
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