Adam Loewen – 2006 Topps Update
November 20, 2010
The Next Rick Ankiel?
It was an eventful year of minor league baseball watching for me this year, even if I did just squeeze in two games.
In April, I saw Rancho Cucamonga face Inland Empire, and saw Scott Kazmir and Reggie Willits rehabbing for the home-standing Quakes. I also realized why Kazmir had fallen from grace a bit. He wasn’t overpowering many Class A hitters and fell behind in the count a bit. His stats were pedestrian – 6 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 3 earned runs.
I was impressed by the 66’ers starter, Aaron Miller. While he gave up three runs in the first, he rebounded and used a fastball and breaking pitch effectively. Old-timer Charlie Hough, the 66’ers pitching coach, applauded his effort. But the unknown pitcher taking his place (there were a couple of fans in the stands and I who dove for our smart phones because the program did not have him listed) would make a bigger splash this year.
It was Kenley Jansen! Jansen rose through the Dodgers system like a rocket this year after being converted from catcher, and he’s on my keeper list for my fantasy baseball team!
The other game I saw was out in Manchester, NH, featuring the New Hampshire Fisher Cats against the Harrisburg Senators. The Senators started John Lannan, who was their opening day starter this season. He wasn’t in AA to rehab, he was in AA to find himself again by working with pitching coach Randy Tomlin. Again, I wasn’t impressed, per se. Lannan had trouble locating and was rocked for a few long hits. But the work with Tomlin must have paid off, since he returned to Washington in early August and went 7-4 with a 3.42 after returning from exile.
That Senators team also featured former Braves lefty Chuck James, who was battling back from injury and ineffectiveness (not exactly in that order). Since he’s a portsider, the adage YOU GOTTA HAVE A LEFTY will help his chances. He did look very sharp when I saw him and for the season in AA he went 8-0 with a 1.59 as a reliever.
The Fisher Cats featured a rehabbing Travis Snider (who played in 20 games, so the Jays weren’t rushing him back) and the game starter was Kyle Drabek, who looked very nice in his appearance. But I was intrigued by a name that I semi-recognized, then found some info in the program, and then did more research.
As you may have guessed, it was Adam Loewen.
Because the Orioles are about as exciting and newsworthy of a club as the daily reports coming from the island of Palau, I barely recognized him. Rookie card collectors probably knew about it quickly because his card’s value plummeted after it was revealed he had a stress fracture in his elbow in 2007. (Let me just say this…OUCH!) He got knocked around a bit in 2006, but a 22-year old Canadian rookie should be expected to take his lumps for a terrible team. He tried to come back in 2008, got his head beat in, went to the minors and put up some good numbers but on his return to Balmer it was not meant to be and he was shut down in 2008.
He really couldn’t pitch anymore without risk of something happening like Dravecky, Saunders, Smiley or Browning.
Baltimore gave him a big bonus and he could have definitely lived off what he had for the rest of his life. But he loved baseball. So he decided to keep playing. However, the Orioles weren’t so convinced, so they allowed him to sign with the Blue Jays organization.
In 2009, Loewen, age 25, spent the year at Dunedin in the FSL and had some struggles. But the FSL is a pitcher’s league so he wasn’t written off as a lost cause. The Eastern League is another pitcher’s league, but he showed a lot more power this past season. He’ll need to cut down the strikeouts and raise the batting average a bit, but his peripherals are good and solid.
Will Loewen return to the majors as a hitter after his pitching career was all but written off, like Ankiel? The Jays have Wells, Lewis, Lind, Bautista, and Snider in the OF mix. And they’re going to have to pay – Wells is due $23 million (WOW!), Lewis and Bautista are aribtration eligible (and Bautista’s gonna cash in…) and Lind has a long term deal in place. Snider’s put up some good numbers and he’ll be just 23 next year. No one is gonna take Wells off their hands either.
And the Jays just received Rajai Davis in a trade – which probably mean Lewis will be non-tendered. (In reality, it’s a wash, Davis’ speed is great but Lewis is a bit better on offense.)
So Loewen may make the majors, and he no doubt feels some loyalty to the Jays for allowing him to come back with them, but unless Toronto does something drastic I think Loewen’s comeback story will be for another team in the near future.