Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
2014 Stats: 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 18 K (2 GS)
As you can tell by his stats, it was a pretty good first week of the season for Henry Owens. The 6’6” left-hander opened the year by registering nine strikeouts in a rain-shortened, six-inning no-hitter; he followed it up on Wednesday with another nine punchouts and 6.2 scoreless frames.
Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
2014 Stats: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K (1 GS)
With Jameson Taillon out for the year following Tommy John surgery, Kingham, 22, now ranks as the Pirates’ pitching prospect closest to the major leagues. However, given the development path of both Taillon and Gerrit Cole in previous years, the right-hander seems more likely to finish the year in Triple-A than Pittsburgh’s starting rotation.
Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
2014 Stats: 12 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, BB, 12 K (2 GS)
As expected, Butler has been impressive out of the gate this season in Double-A Tulsa’s starting rotation, posting a 2.25 ERA and a 12-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in two starts, and it’s hard to imagine the 23-year-old not reaching the major leagues before the All-Star break.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats: 7 IP, 4 H, 6 K (1 GS)
The Reds have remained steadfast with their development of Lorenzen—the No. 38 overall pick in the 2013 draft—as a starting pitcher and challenged the 22-year-old with an Opening Day assignment to Double-A Pensacola. Lorenzen’s season debut on Monday was easily the best performance of his brief professional career, as the right-hander scattered four hits and struck out six in seven shutout innings.
Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
2014 Stats: 5 IP, H, BB, 11 K (1 G)
Stephenson, 21, was absolutely awesome in his season debut for Double-A Pensacola, allowing a hit and walk with 11 strikeouts in five innings. Exactly how dominant was he? Well, the hard-throwing right-hander struck out 10 of the first 13 batters he faced.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
2014 Stats: 10.1 IP, 15 H (2 HR), 8 ER, 3 BB, 11 K (2 GS)
Biddle had a respectable 2013 campaign at Double-A Reading, posting a 3.64 ERA with 154 strikeouts in 138.1 innings, but his control and command regressed against more advanced hitters and resulted in a career-worst 5.3 BB/9. The 22-year-old will look to get back on track this season while repeating Double-A.
Mark Sappington, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
2014 Stats: 8.1 IP, 16 H, 10 ER, 5 BB, 6 K (2 GS)
Sappington has power stuff and proved to be durable last year by logging 156.1 innings across two levels, but his lack of control and command could make it a long season for the right-hander in the hitter-friendly California League.
Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
2014 Stats: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, BB, 3 K (1 GS)
Heaney had an impressive spring and enters the season as one of baseball’s top left-handed pitching prospects, but the 22-year-old had a season debut to forget last week, allowing three runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings for Double-A Jacksonville.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
2014 Stats: 10 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 7 K (2 GS)
Rodriguez, who recently turned 21, can miss his share of bats and profiles as a solid mid-rotation starter in the major leagues, but he currently lacks the overall consistency needed to be effective on a regular basis.
*Video courtesy of Ron Shah.