One of the few Spring Training battles for the Mets was between lefties Mike Baxter and Adam Loewen. With the battle going down to the final frames of Spring (Baxter’s .286/.333/.304 line vs. Loewen’s .256/.347/.349 line), the Mets opted for Queens-native Baxter for the bench spot. It’s hard to argue with the decision, as Baxter has produced as a part-timer (.333/.417/.476 line in 24 PA’s), but with Loewen lighting-up Triple-A (.270/.400/.568 line in 45 PA’s), one has to wonder what else Loewen has to do to prove he’s worth a MLB spot.
Loewen’s transformation from maligned pitching prospect to hitter has taken four seasons, but the fruits of his labor are finally starting to show. The now ex-pitcher started his new career as a hitter in Advanced-A in 2009 for the Toronto Blue Jays. 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, placing 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. Regardless, the Blue Jays opted against re-signing Loewen, enabling the Mets to take a flier.
To-date in Triple-A, the 28 year-old has posted an awesome .270/.400/.568 line with 3 HR, 9 RBI, 4 R, and 1 SB in 45 PA’s. Small sample size aside, Loewen has seemingly matured into a far better hitter as a Buffalo Bison. The left-hander, who has been plagued by high strikeout totals (142 in 2010, and 136 in 2011), has actually walked more than he’s struck-out this season (8 BB’s to 5 K’s). Loewen is also besting his HR/PA rate, smacking a homerun once every 11.25 PA.
Yet with Andres Torres off the DL and starting, and Mike Baxter doing his part as a left-handed bench option, there’s seemingly no room for Loewen. Heck, when Jason Bay comes back from injury, Baxter will probably get the boot himself. The best thing Loewen can do is continue his torrid pace. At some point, his offensive abilities will force Sandy Alderson to make room on the Major League level. Until then, Loewen is just Triple-A fodder.