For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, Jeremy Lin was an undrafted second year player out of Harvard who was cut by two teams before even dribbling a basketball for the Knicks. The 23 year-old rose out of obscurity (and the practice squad) to not only start at point guard for the Knicks, but also actually led them to a series of much-needed victories. Given the excitement and success of Lin so far for the Knicks, it’s only natural to ponder if the lowly Mets could have there very own Jeremy Lin waiting in the wings. In some ways, there’s a chance Adam Loewen could become the Mets version of Lin in 2012.
Loewen’s path back to the Major Leagues couldn’t be more different than Lin’s new-found success. The southpaw was originally a first round draft choice (fourth overall) by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2002 draft. Formerly raised as a pitcher, the lefty drew rave reviews from scouts–even being tabbed as the 13th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2004 season. Despite a variety of successful Minor League seasons, the young hurler wasn’t quite dominant in the show.
The pitcher first got the call in 2006 as a 22 year-old, posting a 5.37 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 1.58 K/BB in 112.3 innings for the Orioles. Loewen broke with the club to start 2007, but endured a stress fracture to his pitching elbow, and subsequently missed the rest of the season. The now 24 year-old geared-up for his return in 2008, but the pitcher couldn’t find home plate. Loewen walked 18 batters in just 21.3 innings with the Orioles, and couldn’t seem to find his rhythm in the Minors either. On July 19, the former top prospect announced–due to his injury–that he would not longer pitch, and instead pursue a career as a hitter.
Even though Loewen was just 25 years-old, the Orioles parted ways with their system’s ex-gem, freeing him to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays. The now first baseman/outfielder started his new career in Advanced-A–a level he hadn’t seen since 2004, when he was 20. In 391 PA’s, Loewen posted a .236/.340/.355 line with 4 HR, 31 RBI, 47 R, and 5 SB. Needless to say, his transition was looking pretty grim. However, his outlook steadily improved the following season.
Promoted to Double-A in 2010, the 26 year-old began to ease into his new role, swatting a .246/.351/.412 line with 13 HR, 70 RBI, 70 R, and 17 SB in 537 PA’s. The Blue Jays continued to move Loewen up the ranks, starting him in Triple-A to start the 2011 season. The former pitcher looked like a natural hitter, hitting to the tune of a .306/.377/.508 line 17 HR, 85 RBI, 83 R, and 11 SB in 585 PA’s. Loewen’s pop and ability to hit right-handed pitching earned him a trip to the Majors in early-September. Granted, the 27 year-old didn’t exactly rake for the Blue Jays (.188/.297/.313 line in 37 PA’s), but his Triple-A numbers were hard to ignore.
With the plethora of infield and outfield depth on the Blue Jays 40-man roster, Loewen was left without a spot going into 2012. The Mets scooped him up on November 12, 2011, and invited him to Spring Training. Considering the immense struggles of Jason Bay–especially versus right-handed pitcher (.228/.297/.332 line against in 2011)–there’s a good chance Loewen will earn a bench spot and possible platoon opportunity with the Mets in 2012. Even though Adam Loewen was once a top prospect, his bumpy trail back to the Major Leagues and potential as a hitter could very well lend itself to a “Linsanity”-type situation.