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Pipeline preview: Sanchez, Owens set to square off

Heralded pitching prospects for Toronto, Boston face in Double-A matchup

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez and left-hander Henry Owens are two of the best pitchers in the Minor Leagues. Both are highly ranked on's Top 100 Prospects list (Sanchez is No. 21; Owens checks in at No. 28) and are their team's top prospect (Sanchez for the Blue Jays; Owens, the Red Sox). If all goes according to plan, they will face each other in key American League East games for years to come.

But their first career meeting will come Thursday in the Eastern League when Double-A New Hampshire travels to Portland to begin a four-game series. Fans can watch the game on MiLB.TV at 6 p.m. ET.

Sanchez enters the game with a 2.55 ERA in seven starts this year. He has struck out 29 batters and walked 19 in 35 1/3 innings.

Owens has a 3.89 ERA in six starts. He has struck out 35 batters and walked 13 in 34 2/3 innings.

In addition to Sanchez and Owens, a few other pitchers ranked in the Top 100 are scheduled to start Wednesday, including Zach Lee (No. 59), Trevor Bauer (No. 67), Justin Nicolino (No. 74) and Pierce Johnson (No. 93). Fans can watch all of them on MiLB.TV, beginning with Bauer and Triple-A Columbus taking on Rochester at 6:35 p.m.

Also among Thursday's notable probable starters is D-backs' No. 3 prospect Aaron Blair, who will be making his debut for Class A Advanced Visalia. The right-hander was selected 36th overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and was promoted Tuesday. Blair made six starts this season at Class A South Bend and was leading the Midwest League with 44 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings at the time of his promotion.

Thursday is also expected to mark the return to action for outfielder Jorge Soler, the Cubs' No. 5 prospect and No. 45 overall. He has been out with a hamstring injury since April 3 and was activated from the disabled list Wednesday. Soler should be in the lineup for Double-A Tennessee when it takes on Birmingham in a game that can be seen at 7:15 p.m. on MiLB.TV.

Top prospect probables
Trevor Bauer (Indians' No. 3), Columbus vs. Rochester
Aaron Blair (D-backs' No. 3), Visalia vs. Stockton
Parker Bridwell (Orioles' No. 17), Frederick vs. Winston-Salem
Alex Gonzalez (Rangers' No. 7), Myrtle Beach at Potomac
Ismael Guillon (Reds' No. 10), Dayton vs. Fort Wayne
Jesse Hahn (Padres' No. 13), San Antonio at Midland
Kyle Hendricks (Cubs' No. 15), Iowa at New Orleans
Jake Johansen (Nationals' No. 12), Hagerstown at Hickory
Pierce Johnson (Cubs' No. 7), Tennessee vs. Birmingham
Cody Kukuk (Red Sox's No. 16), Salem vs. Carolina
Zach Lee (Dodgers' No. 4), Albuquerque vs. Sacramento
Michael Lorenzen (Reds' No. 5), Pensacola vs. Chattanooga
Adalberto Mejia (Giants' No. 3), Richmond vs. Erie
Keury Mella (Giants' No. 19), Augusta at Delmarva
Andrew Mitchell (White Sox No. 16), Kannapolis at Lakewood
Mike Montgomery (Rays' No. 18), Durham at Syracuse
Justin Nicolino (Marlins' No. 4), Jacksonville at Montgomery
Sean Nolin (Blue Jays' No. 10), Buffalo at Gwinnett
Henry Owens (Red Sox's No. 1), Portland vs. New Hampshire
Aaron Sanchez (Blue Jays' No. 1), New Hampshire at Portland
Luis Severino (Yankees' No. 10), Charleston at Rome
Domingo Tapia (Mets' No. 14), St. Lucie vs. Palm Beach
Jake Thompson (Tigers' No. 4), Lakeland vs. Tampa
Duane Underwood (Cubs' No. 20), Kane County at Burlington
Drew VerHagen (Tigers' 13), Toledo at Pawtucket
Logan Verrett (Mets' No. 20), Las Vegas at Salt Lake

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.