Since being drafted fourth overall in 2002, twenty-three-year-old Adam Loewen has always been highly-touted within the Baltimore organization. He has a slider, a split-finger, change-up, curveball, and a low-90s fastball but has been known to rear back and hit as high as 96 mph when necessary. Last year as a rookie, the 6’6″ lefty compiled a 6 – 6 record on a lackluster team while putting up an impressive 7.85 K/9 mark in 112.1 IP. In addition to those numbers, he also has a groundball ratio of 48.5%. The combination of his GB% and a 19.44 K/BF (batters faced) percentage put him in very elite company (details found here). Loewen’s tendency to induce groundballs, a factor directly correlated to success, has also given him an attractive affinity to not give up the longball (0.64 HR/9), a feature that is extra advantageous pitching both at Camden Yards and against the AL East. Reviewing those numbers, put up as a rookie no less, and you are looking at a legitimate sleeper. His biggest weakness is his walk rate which can likely be chalked up to his immaturity. Expect his base-on-ball and ERA numbers to decrease as he becomes a vital linchpin in the Baltimore rotation for years to come, starting this year.
Loewen is slated to begin the season as the #4 pitcher behind Erik Bedard, Jaret Wright, and Daniel Cabrera. But by season’s end, he could very well be the second best starter on the team behind Bedard. In Spring Training, Adam had a 1.64 ERA in 22 IP with 23 Ks and only 9 walks. Look for him to build upon that success as he will be backed up by a stronger Orioles offense and revamped bullpen which should help his win totals. Loewen might not have the extreme upside of fellow organization mates Daniel Cabrera and Hayden Penn, but he is a much safer pick in terms of reliability and health. In many leagues, Loewen is not drafted. However, he should be given a long look by managers in need of pitching and in keeper/dynasty leagues. If all that isn’t enough to convince you that he’s worth a look, he’s also Canadian!
Matthew Robertson is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Matthew in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Havok1517.
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