Henry Owens, LHP
Remember when we wanted you to exercise caution about Henry Owens? First, it was because his early start was not an indication that he was too good for Double-A batters: he was new, he was talented, and the league needed time to both see and figure out his game. Second, it was because we didn't want you to panic about his inevitable struggles: hitters adjust, after all, and Owens was dealing with the necessary growing pains of Double-A, aka the entire reason players are supposed to go through the minors to begin with. Now we're up to the third segment of Owens' season, in which we can safely say he's probably done learning what he absolutely has to with Double-A Portland, and it's time to bring this show to Pawtucket for the next lessons.
Over his last four starts, Owens has thrown 28-2/3 innings (or just under 7-1/3 per start), struck out 24 batters, and walked six. He allowed just one run during that entire stretch, gave up all of 15 hits, threw 67 percent strikes, and induced far more ground balls than fly balls. Opponents batted .152/.200/.182 in 105 trips to the plate, with just three of the 15 hits going for extra bases, all of them doubles. Remember when Owens was promoted to Double-A after throwing 18 innings of no-hit ball over the course of a few starts? This is a similar signal that he's finished in Maine, and it's time to hit I-95 and make his way to Rhode Island, especially when you consider he's now got a 2.06 ERA over 109 total innings at this level.
Except, there's no room for him there. Both Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa could be rejoining the Triple-A Pawtucket rotation soon thanks to Clay Buchholz's and Felix Doubront's imminent returns to the majors. With Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, and Allen Webster already in Triple-A, there's nowhere for Owens. More on that later, because it merits its own column(s).
Deven Marrero, SS
Marrero scuffled for a bit and saw his line suffer for it, but he's since erased most of that damage and is now batting .279/.362/.415 thanks to an absurd June where he's hit .358/.433/.528 with six extra-base hits and seven walks against five strikeouts in 14 games. If he keeps it up, he won't be in Portland for much longer, as there is no prospect in front of him in Pawtucket at shortstop.
Pawtucket might be a tough assignment for him in the same way a midseason bump to Double-A a year ago was, but his bat is much further along now than it was then, and his glove has been ready for the jump for a while. The more time Marrero gets in Triple-A in 2014, the better, so expect to see a promotion sometime in the next month to get him more than just August at the level.
Sean Coyle, IF
Coyle is back from the early season injury that kept him out of Portland's games for almost all of May, and he is making up for lost time. In the 24 games since his return, Coyle is batting .375/.439/.636 with 15 extra-base hits -- four of them homers. His strikeouts are high, but not to a worrisome point at 22 percent, and while a whole lot of this stretch has to do with an absurd .468 batting average on balls in play, Coyle is having quality at-bats and is hitting the ball hard.
The timing of Coyle's breakout is either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you want to look at things. He needs to be placed on the 40-man roster this offseason in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and if he keeps tearing up the Eastern League, he's going to be claimed unless the Red Sox either trade him beforehand or stash him on the 40. If you don't believe anyone would bother claiming someone as young as Coyle who hasn't even been to Triple-A, might I remind you that the Orioles took Michael Almanzar from Boston last December, and without Almanzar having anything like the season or positional flexibility of Coyle?