Left-hander Henry Owens, the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect, began the 2014 season even better than the way he finished his breakout '13 campaign.
Owens threw a no-hitter on Opening Day at Double-A Portland in a game that was shortened to six innings by rain. He struck out nine batters and walked two in a 5-0 victory Thursday night against Reading and left-hander Jesse Biddle, the Phillies' No. 2 prospect.
Despite the tough competition, Owens got plenty of support from the Sea Dogs' offense. Second baseman Mookie Betts, the Red Sox's No. 7 prospect, led the way. He went 4-for-4 with three runs and a home run. Catcher Blake Swihart, the club's No. 5 prospect, went 2-for-3 with a triple and shortstop Deven Marrero, their No. 15 prospect, added two doubles.
Owens, ranked No. 30 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, was a part of another no-hitter last season in Class A Advanced Salem. He combined with two relievers for a no-hitter against Frederic on July 18. Owens threw six no-hit innings in that game as well, before turning the ball over to the bullpen for the final three innings. That start was part of a three-start stretch in which he didn't allow a hit over 19 1/3 innings.
Soon after last year's combined no-hitter, Owens was promoted to Portland. He made six starts there to close out the season, compiling a 1.78 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. Between Salem and Portland, he posted a 2.67 ERA and finished second in the Minor Leagues with 169 strikeouts in 135 innings.