Henry Owens, LHP
I saw Henry Owens in his most recent start, the third of three in a row in which he's struggled a bit with his control and keeping runs off the board. He was squeezed a bit by the home plate umpire, especially in the first inning, but he wasn't doing himself any favors, either. Owens missed the zone repeatedly, and when he did throw strikes, they were struck hard by the opposition, resulting in six runs over five innings.
His ERA is now 3.77, with his overall Double-A ERA now 2.75: if you were wondering why Owens even needed to be in Double-A after his first few dominating starts, the last handful are your reminder. Owens is talented, and has the capacity to mow down his opponents, but he's also a 21-year-old lefty who the league has not seen very much of. Beating the opposition once doesn't prove anything besides that he's capable of doing that. Facing them a couple more times will give them a chance to adjust to him, he a chance to adjust back, and so on. That's the game from this level onward, when the quality of competition has separated itself from the rawness of A-ball, and something more akin to big-league competition begins to rear its head in the batter's box.
How well Owens responds, and how consistently he can be the high-quality version of himself rather than the shaky, inefficient one, will determine whether he's a mid-rotation arm or capable of something more, as his ceiling suggests he is. You shouldn't panic about Owens, not by any means, but you should remember that he's in Double-A for a reason besides just the stacked nature of the Triple-A rotation.
Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero still isn't hitting for any power, but we shouldn't expect him to: he's a glove-first shortstop who can steal a base and draw a walk, and hopefully hit enough singles to make that good enough. The fact he's hitting .303/.379/.409 while striking out just 19 percent of the time is a positive, considering he was brought to Double-A well before his bat was ready, thanks to that aforementioned glove. It's only been a month, but he's getting on base, making contact at a reasonable rate, and piling on the singles. That's exactly what you want out of your steady hand at short, at least in a realistic world where you remember they can't all be Xander.
His approach at the plate has looked purposeful, and that might be the most important thing. Marrero and former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias are not a good comp for a lot of reasons, but they were both aggressively pushed through the system thanks to their defense. It took Iglesias until 2013, when he was finally in the majors, to come up with a workable plan at the plate. Marrero might have figured out when to wait out a pitcher for something he can pop into the outfield or through a hole already. More time will tell us if that's true, but from the looks of things, he's onto something.
Sean Coyle, 3B
Coyle is dealing with some best-case scenario action right now, as the third baseman/designated hitter for the Sea Dogs is hitting for both average and power. Some of that, at least on the average side, might be due to small samples, as Coyle is still punching out 25 percent of the time: if a few balls in play here and there stop dropping for hits, his line looks significantly different. Still, though, five extra-base hits in 18 games for a guy who is bouncing around the diamond thanks to the presence of Mookie Betts is good, especially in conjunction with eight percent walks and his successful six-for-six on stolen base attempts.
He teased a breakout last year, so even if this isn't the final shape of his 2014, we shouldn't be surprised by success. He's got a lot of pop in that bat, and if he can just cut down on the strikeouts, there would be a whole lot to like here.