06/04/2002 1:06 pm ET
Orioles tab highly touted Loewen
Canadian lefty wields wicked fastball, curve
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
Orioles' round-by-round picks
BALTIMORE -- The consolation prize in the B.J. Upton Sweepstakes was a potential No. 1 Major League starter. Not a bad deal for the Orioles.
When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took Upton second, the Orioles reacted quickly at their Camden Yards headquarters and took British Columbia left-handed pitcher Adam Loewen with the fourth pick in Tuesday's First-Year Player Draft.
Loewen, 18, is the first of two Canadians -- along with Jeff Francis -- taken in the first round. The Rockies selected Francis. And although the Orioles were disappointed that Upton was gone, they were pleased to get a potentially talented left-hander.
"I don't think it's any secret that we wanted Upton in the worst way," scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "We wanted a position player we thought who could be an impact guy. [But] we feel like Adam Loewen has a chance to be a No. 1 or 2 starter in the big leagues. We just didn't feel like we could pass on that type of impact pitcher."
Loewen, 6 feet 6 and 220 pounds, throws in the low 90-mph range. He did not play high school baseball because Fraser Valley Christian High School did not field a team. The Orioles scouted him playing for the Whaley Premier League, considered an equivalent to the Babe Ruth or American Legion programs in the United States.
Fraser V. Christian
Long, thickly muscled arms and legs on large frame, similar to Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. Effortless, three-quarter release with loose arm. Ball jumps out of hand. Downward plane and late, boring action with some sink on fastball. Sharp-biting, knee-buckling curve with depth. Change fades and sinks. Strong, durable with command of all pitches.
"Actually I felt I was going to go to Baltimore," Loewen told MLB.com from his Surrey, British Columbia, home. "They were at all my games. It's a great organization. Right now, it's an unbelievable feeling."
Though Canadians have occupied Major League rosters before, Loewen is the highest-drafted Canadian in history since Canadian players became available to pick in 1985. Loewen is considered perhaps the best pitcher ever to originate from north of the border.
"With all of the great players to come out of Canada, I can't put into words what it feels like to be told that," Loewen said. "My goal is to be with the [Major League club] in two years. I think I can do it. There is a shortage of left-handed pitchers in the big leagues."
Loewen is the second Canadian recently selected by Baltimore. Left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard from Naum, Ontario, was taken in the sixth round in the 1999 draft and made his Major League debut earlier this season.
Bedard is now pitching for Double-A Bowie. Although Bedard is a finesse pitcher, DeMacio made it clear that Loewen is different.
"The young man is bigger and more physical and is just 18," DeMacio said. "He has a good breaking ball for a young left-hander, and he touched 95 [mph] again [Monday]. He will throw low- to mid-90s. He's a strikeout pitcher and has nice, easy delivery."
Loewen has some impressive accomplishments for a pitcher who has yet to graduate high school. He played for Team Canada's national junior team the past three years. Two years ago, he beat eventual World Junior League champion Korea and was named team MVP. In 2001, he tossed a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates' Dominican summer league squad, striking out 16. He went 5-1 with a 0.16 ERA this season.
"The majority of high schools played in the states aren't different from Canada," DeMacio said. "He faced great worldwide competition. I took a nice long trip to Vancouver and then a ferry to Victoria Island to see him."
Loewen led Surrey to the 1996 Little League World Series and has signed a letter of intent to play at Arizona State. He is expected to sign with the Orioles.
He is the highest selection for Baltimore since 1992, when it chose Stanford outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds with the fourth pick.
DeMacio said Loewen could be headed to the Orioles' new short-season Single-A team in Aberdeen Md., owned by former Oriole Cal Ripken. He also could begin his pro career with Bluefield, the team's Rookie League affiliate.
"[Aberdeen] would be a great play to play," Loewen said. "Especially since it's owned by Cal Ripken."
Gary Washburn covers the Orioles for MLB.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.