Adam Loewen was originally drafted by the Orioles with the fourth pick in 2002 as a starting pitcher out of Fraser Valley High in British Columbia. The 6'6" lefty was a future staff ace, but his arm fell apart and, weighing two equally depressing alternatives — yet another arm surgery or full-on retirement — Loewen, a hitting star in high school, opted instead to give the bat another try.
Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) has a terrific profile of Loewen in today's Star-Ledger, tracing the former-first-rounder's odyssey from can't-miss star to has-been to minor league free agent signing with the Mets.
Baltimore wanted to retain Loewen after the conversion. But Loewen spurned them for an opportunity with the Blue Jays, the team he adored in his youth. Their general manager, J.P. Ricciardi, took a flyer on him. "We always knew he was a good athlete," said Ricciardi, now the special assistant to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.
Of course, to flourish as a hitter, Loewen first needed to find his dormant talent. A pitcher resides within the confines of the mound, 18 feet in diameter, and bequeaths the rest of the diamond to his teammates. The violent act of throwing a baseball overrides all other activity. "Pitching, it really does strip you of your athleticism," Loewen said with a laugh.
As an outfielder, he learned to balance a daily schedule of running, throwing and fielding. Then there was the most complicated task.
"My swing was in shambles," he said, "and I had to build from the ground up."
Loewen is competing for the last spot on the bench, his main competition for which will be Mike Baxter. Check out the rest of McCullough's profile at NJ.com.