Loewen pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in 2006
|Pitcher / Outfielder|
April 9, 1984 |
Surrey, British Columbia
|May 23, 2006, for the Baltimore Orioles|
(through 2016 season)
|Earned run average||5.85|
|Runs batted in||4|
Adam Alexander Loewen (born April 9, 1984) is a Canadian professional baseball pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization. He previously pitched in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles from 2006 to 2008, before converting to a position player and playing with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011. After spending the next two seasons in the minors as a position player, Loewen converted back to being a pitcher, and was called up to the Philadelphia Phillies in August 2015. He pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016.
Though there have been full-time pitchers who have converted to full-time position players, and vice versa, Loewen's three stage career (converting from full-time pitcher to full-time position player and back to full-time pitcher) is unique in major league history.
Loewen grew up in Surrey, British Columbia, and was both a starting pitcher and first baseman for Kennedy-Surrey Little League, the team that represented Canada at the 1996 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He would go on to attend Fraser Valley Christian High School and play baseball for the Whalley Chiefs of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League. He committed to play college baseball at Arizona State. While still in high school, he pitched a no hitter against the Dominican Summer League Pirates for the Canadian national baseball team. Loewen was selected as the fourth pick in the 2002 Major League Baseball draft by the Baltimore Orioles. This was the highest a Canadian player had ever been drafted until righthander Jameson Taillon was drafted second overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates (though he remains the highest Canadian-born player ever picked, as Taillon was born the child of Canadian nationals in Florida).
Loewen went on to play one season with Chipola College, but signed a Major League Baseball contract with Baltimore worth $4.02 million shortly thereafter. In 2004, he was named their top prospect by Baseball America. However, by early 2006, he had been downgraded to the team's second best prospect.
Loewen garnered international attention on March 8, 2006, when he started for Canada against the star-studded United States team in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. In 32⁄3 shutout innings, Loewen held veterans Chipper Jones, Mark Teixeira, Vernon Wells, and Derrek Lee hitless. He ended up earning the win as Canada won the game 8–6.
During the 2006 season, Loewen was called up by the Orioles. In his first four Major League starts, he faced three former Cy Young Award winners: Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine and Roy Halladay, whom he faced twice. This made Loewen the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to face Cy Young winners in his first four starts. He was injured early in the 2007 season, suffering a stress fracture to his pitching elbow and was later placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Loewen began to develop control problems during spring training, where he led the Majors in walks, with 19 in just over 16 innings. His lack of control did not cease during the early stages of the regular season, and after experiencing soreness in his left arm throughout April, Loewen was placed on the disabled list and missed the next two months of the season. Although he was subsequently converted into a relief pitcher when he returned in July, he experienced a sharp pain in his surgically repaired elbow. This injury, diagnosed as a stress fracture, eventually caused him to prematurely end his season. Loewen announced on July 19 that he would no longer be a pitcher due to his chronic injuries, and that he would convert to an outfielder/first baseman. He temporarily ended his pitching career with a lifetime 8–8 record, with an earned run average of 5.38 and 134 strikeouts; he would return to pitching in 2014, as recounted below.
Transition to position player
Due to the nature of his injury and his inability to remain as a pitcher, Loewen had the Orioles' support when he made the decision to transition to a position player. His contract stipulated that he was required to remain with the big league club on its active roster at this stage in his career. As Loewen would need time in the minors to learn a new position and pick up batting experience, both sides agreed on October 20, 2008 that Loewen would be released from his contract. Both sides had talked about re-signing him to a minor league contract though no formal agreement was ever reached. The Orioles had hoped to develop Loewen to play at first base but were also actively in the market to sign free agent first basemen. Loewen reportedly received several offers from other teams, and signed a minor-league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. After attending minor-league spring training with the Jays, Loewen was assigned to the Dunedin Blue Jays on April 9, 2009.
During 2011 with Triple-A Las Vegas, Loewen batted .306 with 17 home runs and 85 RBI in 134 games, which also saw him play all three outfield positions as well as first base.
Toronto Blue Jays
Loewen was called up to the Blue Jays on September 6, 2011, marking his first trip back to the majors since becoming a position player. Loewen made his position player debut on Wednesday, September 7, against the Boston Red Sox. He recorded his first career hit in the 8th inning, against reliever Daniel Bard. In a game against his former team, the Baltimore Orioles, on September 11, Loewen hit his first career home run, a solo shot over the centre field wall off starter Tommy Hunter.
New York Mets
Return to the Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays announced on January 12, 2013 that Loewen had been signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Initially, Loewen was to start the 2013 season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats; however, on April 2, Loewen was promoted to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, where he played during 2012 in the Mets farm system. On April 11, Loewen was sent down to Double-A New Hampshire. In 115 games with New Hampshire, he hit .269 with 15 home runs and 60 RBI.
Philadelphia Phillies and return to pitching
On April 16, 2014, Loewen signed a 2-year minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies as a pitcher. The team sent him to extended spring training. He made two starts in May for the High-A Clearwater Threshers before being promoted to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils.
On October 30, 2015, Loewen signed a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. On July 30, 2016, the Diamondbacks brought Loewen up from the Triple-A Reno Aces as a pitcher. He was designated for assignment on August 15.
On February 13, 2017, Loewen signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. He elected free agency on November 6, 2017. On January 12, 2018, Loewen re-signed with the Rangers. On May 31, 2018, Loewen was released by the Rangers after spending the beginning of 2018 with the AAA Round Rock Express.
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