Originally, two Boston Red Sox minor leaguers were chosen to play in the exhibition—Mookie Betts and Henry Owens, a left-handed pitcher for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Betts' promotion to the majors made him ineligible for the game, and his roster spot was given to Sea Dogs infielder Sean Coyle.
Puerto Rican catcher Christian Vazquez was named as a replacement on the World team when the Atlanta Braves called up Christian Bethancourt. But now that Vazquez is in Boston, he won't be able to participate either.
Owens and Coyle are each putting together exceptional seasons in Portland, and both are well-deserving of their selections. Here are brief scouting reports on the two Red Sox prospects headed to Minneapolis.
Owens is a 6'6" lefty out of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, California, who was taken by Boston with the 36th pick in the first round of the 2011 draft. MLB.com rates him the No. 1 overall prospect in the Red Sox organization. Owens throws his fastball in the low 90s, but he is best known for his devastating changeup. He's still just 21 years old and will turn 22 later this month.
In 17 starts for Portland this season, Owens has compiled a 12-3 record, along with a 2.21 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. He's struck out 111 batters in 105.2 innings while allowing just 40 walks. Owens has also held opposing hitters to a .183 batting average.
His gaudy numbers have become even more impressive recently—Owens has earned a victory in each of his last eight starts while giving up a total of only eight runs in that span. In his last outing on July 6, Owens went eight innings, surrendered three hits, one walk and one run, and struck out 11.
Owens was recently named to Baseball America's midseason top 50 prospects list and was also chosen for the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 14, the day after the Futures Game.
I try my hardest to stay humble. Sometimes it’s tough with guys coming to interview me and telling you how you're doing compared to last year and what people expect you to do this year and how you're exceeding expectations, but I think the main focus in my head is there's still development here in the minor leagues.
I'm not in The Show yet and the end goal is to help however I can to win games for Boston and eventually win the World Series.
So I just know that every day I come in the ballpark there’s still something I can do to get better.
Coyle is a 5'8" right-handed second baseman from Germantown Academy in Pennsylvania who the Red Sox selected in the third round of the 2010 draft. The 22-year-old is currently ranked as the 13th-best prospect in Boston's farm system by SoxProspects.com. Despite his small size, Coyle is very well built. He has a compact swing, a quick bat and good power for a middle infielder.
After hitting below .250 in each of his first three years in the minors, Coyle is tearing the cover off the ball for the Sea Dogs this season.
Through 63 games, he's batting .336, with a .411 on-base percentage and a .584 slugging percentage. Coyle also has 11 home runs, 18 doubles and 47 RBI in just 214 at-bats. In addition to his excellent numbers at the plate, Coyle has stolen 12 bases to this point as well. He's also hitting a spectacular .375 with runners in scoring position.
In June, Coyle posted stat lines of .348/.450/.652, which were good enough to earn him Eastern League Player of the Month honors. Like Owens, Coyle also earned a spot in the Eastern League All-Star Game.
Coyle’s power potential is underscored by his ability to drive the ball out without pulling the ball. Three of his 11 homers this year have been to center or right-center; five of his 16 homers in 2013 went out to center or right-center.
While Coyle is clearly making great strides at the plate this season, there may also be a fair bit of luck involved in his torrid first half. On July 4, Morrison wrote:
Certainly there appears to be greater consistency of hard contact as well — but probably not enough to explain the shift in Coyle's batting average on balls in play, which is at an astounding .435 this year compared to .284 a year ago. In other words, while there has been improvement in Coyle's at-bat management, there also appears to have been some favorable fortune to his standout year.
Statistics via Milb.com unless otherwise noted.