Henry Owens, LHP
Henry Owens followed up his rain-shortened, six-inning no-hitter with another gem on Wednesday, striking out nine without allowing a walk. Sure, he allowed six hits in the process, but in 6-2/3 innings, without any other baserunners or a single run scored, it's hard to argue with results. Speaking of results, Owens has now struck out 64 batters in 43 career innings at Double-A, nearly four times as many as he's walked, while allowing just 24 hits and eight runs.
Let's not advocate pushing him to Triple-A or beyond right now, however: Owens works more with deception than pure stuff, as his motion is the same (and the same speed) regardless of what he's throwing. He needs to get through the Eastern League a second time and toy with them the same way he has before we can get too excited. It's certainly a possibility, but since Triple-A is already packed with starters and Owens doesn't need to be on the 40-man roster until after the 2015 season, there's no rush just yet. Owens could always force the issue, but with just 43 innings at the level to his credit, now is not the time.
Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero's glove pushed him to Double-A in 2013 before his bat was ready, resulting in a .236 average without a single extra-base hit in his 19 games there. He showed some positive signs, though, drawing 10 walks against 16 strikeouts in that stretch, leading to a .321 on-base percentage. To begin 2014, he's been headed in the other direction a bit, collecting three doubles but just one walk. Neither sample tells us who Marrero is, of course, but 2014 should give us some indications.
His glove is the rocket strapped to his back that will continue to push him through the system regardless of where his bat is at, a la Jose Iglesias. The fact that Triple-A Pawtucket doesn't have a true shortstop will only exacerbate that. That's not to say the Sox are going to rush Marrero: we're talking about a recent first-round draft pick who could be a decent enough stick at short, with a glove that more than makes up for it. We just might see some ugly struggles while he adjusts, in the same way another serious defender, Christian Vazquez, has at various stops along the way.
Sean Coyle, 3B
Coyle has moved off of second base thanks to fellow keystoner Mookie Betts, and found a new home at third base. With Michael Almanzar selected by the Orioles in last December's Rule 5 draft, it was an open position, but it's also one Coyle should have the bat and glove for. It's there that he'll get his chance to build on what looked like a breakout 2013, one shortened by injuries that limited Coyle to just 60 games, but a .242/.326/.500 line as a 21-year-old who spent most of the year in High-A ball.
Coyle is unlikely to ever hit for a high average, as there is far too much swing-and-miss in his game, but if he can draw walks at a reasonable pace and hit the ball very far, as he's done to this point in his career, then there's something here people will notice as he gets closer to the majors. If the 5-foot-8, 175 pound third baseman ever loses a little on the power side as he moves up the ladder, though, his future becomes cloudier.
He's still all of 22, though, and there's potential here that's mostly gone unnoticed in a Red Sox system overflowing with promise. The 2014 season might be the year where it comes together, assuming he can stay on the field and make enough contact.