Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Can Adam Loewen Become the Next Rick Ankiel?

Can Adam Loewen Become the Next Rick Ankiel?

By Mike Silva ~ February 9th, 2012. Filed under: New York Mets.

You know the story about the Mets and their inability to add much, if any, payroll. What once was supposed to be about $120 million dollar budget has slide all the way down to around $90 million. That’s why it came as no surprise that one of their rumored targets- Rick Ankiel- signed as minor league deal to remain in Washington. This despite the fact the team was looking for a left handed bat off the bench. Joel Sherman of the NY Post also reported the Mets are all but done pursuing remaining free agents such as Kosuke FukudomeJohnny Damon and Raul Ibanez.

Where does that leave them? Waiting to see who become available during spring training. It’s rare that you find anything useful on the waiver wire down in Florida, so it’s more than likely that spot will be a battle between Mike Baxter and Adam Loewen.

In case you did a double-take, Loewen is the former first round pick of the (4th overall) of the Orioles back in 2002. Baseball America ranked Loewen as the O’s third best prospect in 2004; pointing out his curveball was the best in the organization.  He earned a great deal of international attention when playing in the World Baseball Classic for Canada in the 2006 games. He started and pitched 3.2 in its memorable 8-6 win over the U.S.

Loewen made his big league debut later that season. He struggled (6-6, 5.37), as most 22-year old pitcher do their rookie season. He did display a promising strikeout rate (7.9/per 9), and won 5 of those games the last two months of the season. He was off to a decent start in 2007 (2-0, 3.56), but suffered a stress fracture to his pitching elbow that ended his season in May. Post-surgery, he began to develop control problems and would retire from pitching after 2008.

In 2009, he signed with the Blue Jays as an OF-1b.  Remember, former pitching prospect Rick Ankiel had just made it back to the big leagues as a hitter with the Cardinals the prior year. Loewen started at High-A in ‘09, and moved up to Triple-A Las Vegas last year. Loewen showed some power, speed, and the ability to play all three outfield positions. He was a September call-up for Toronto and produced some heroics. He tied a game against his former team with a late home run; later in the month, he beat Daniel Bard and the Red Sox with a 2-run single in a 5-4 victory.

It wasn’t all good news as in 37 plate appearances with the Jays, Loewen posted a line of .188/.297/.313/.610. Many believe, however, he could be a decent fourth outfielder in the big leagues.

The Mets might be the perfect spot for Loewen to land. The outfield is set with Jason BayAndres Torres, and Lucas Duda all securing starting spots, but depth is certainly a question mark. Despite the presence of Scott Hairston, they need a left-handed complement off the bench. Right now, prospects Kirk NieuwenhuisJuan Lagares, and Cesar Puello round out the 40-man roster. Matt Den Dekker is in camp as a non-roster invitee, but a season of Triple-A would do him some good. None appear to be a serious threat for that backup role, as it would behoove the organization to have them start at various minor league levels. That’s why the only competition for Loewen appears to be Whitestone native Mike Baxter.

Loewen hit 17 HRs, drove in 85 runs and had a slash line of .306/ .377/ .508/.884 in 2011 for Triple-A Las Vegas. You have to take those numbers with a grain of salt considering it was the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. A more realistic scenario is Loewen coming off the bench to pop 7-10 HRs, hit about .250 and play all three outfield positions, when necessary. He strikes out a ton, so I wonder how well his game will translate to the highest level. Baxter didn’t hit much during his brief stint, but he does have the ability to get on base (.350 OBP).

If you look at Ankiel’s performance the last few years, Loewen does appear to profile in a very similar way. The big difference is Ankiel is an outstanding defensive player with a cannon for an arm. I am not sure if Loewen stands out in any one area. Again, this is just for a bench role.

Regardless of what happens, there is no doubt Adam Loewen will be one of the more interesting stories come spring training.

Post to Twitter Post to Yahoo Buzz Post to Delicious Post to Digg Post to Facebook

The following two tabs change content below.
Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

Latest posts by Mike Silva (see all)

1 Response to Can Adam Loewen Become the Next Rick Ankiel?

  1. Chuck Johnson

    Niewenhuis is a lefthanded hitter.

    I saw Loewen in 2010 in the AFL and a bit last season during the PCL playoffs and he looked OK.

    Just like with Ankiel and Brian Bogusevic, pitchers making the transition to a position struggle with things they normally hadn’t done much in their careers, despite their athleticism.

    In a small sample size (and in a DOWN year for offense), Loewen led the AFL with five homers (in 14 games) and finished second with a 1.104 OPS.

    At 6’6″, I’m sure CF wouldn’t be an option for him, but he can definitely handle the corners and actually would provide insurance at first for Davis.

    I saw a quote the other day which called Andres Torres “the best fifth outfielder in baseball”, so maybe the Mets have some deep seeded concerns he can’t play everyday and are inviting every free agent outfielder with a pulse to ST with the hope someone sticks.

    Loewen’s a good sign.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.