The state of the Orioles franchise

                                                                

                                                                           

 

The new baseball season is almost upon us, and finally you can

start to see the Orioles show the young talent they have talked about

for years. Throughout the last few you have seen Nick Markakis, Brian

Roberts, Chris Ray, Jim Johnson, and others come up through the farm

to the bigs and produce. Andy Mcphail has also added to that talent by

trading for players such as Adam Jones, George Sherill and Luke Scott.

He has also added a lot of low risk/high reward type players like Felix Pie,

Rich Hill and David Pauley among others. If you add up all that talent and

they all pan out, you have a pretty solid core of young players to build your

franchise around.

 

Give the O’s one or two more years and you will be really impressed,

as they have top pitching prospects in the minors ready to be called up.

Those top prospects are Righty’s Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta and southpaw

Brian Matusz as the top 3, and Righty’s David Hernandez, Brad Bergesen and

Lefty Troy Patton right behind them. The O’s are lacking position players in the

farm besides top elite prospect catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Brandon

Snyder and outfielder Nolan Reimold, and recently acquired infielder Justin Turner.

The O’s are also hoping former first round pick Billy Rowell starts to produce with the

bat. They are also hoping a move of 3rd base to the outfield help him concentrate on

hitting more. The O’s also have the fourth overall pick in the draft again, and

should be looking for another Matusz type pitcher, or a power hitting infielder.

 

             The O’s are going to be improved in 2009, probably around .500, but watch

out MLB, the O’s are on the rise once again, and should be contending for the

playoffs in 2010 or 2011.

                                                                                                                        By- Greg  Quick

Advertisements

Where do we stand with Adam Loewen?

I’m starting up a new series. Where do we stand with is a look a players who are currently on the roster or could soon be on the big league roster who can help the team down the road or it is thought they can help down the road. Its a look at only young players, not the Jay Paytons or Kevin Millars. I’ll give an overview of their trek through the minors and what they can bring to the big club in the future and whether they’ll be someone who the team can build around.

So I’ll kick it off with Adam Loewen

(photo from Getty Images)

Adam Loewen was drafted by the Orioles with the number 4 overall pick in the Major League Draft in 2002. Loewen signed a 4.02 million dollar major league deal with the O’s, a deal that would be a slight hinderance down the road. With much ado, Loewen was then the best pitching prospect in the system.

In 2003, Loewen started 7 games in Aberdeen. He went 0-2, but his record didn’t reflect his performance. In 23 innings, he struck out 25 batters in 23 innings. Loewen only walked 9 batter and gave up only 7 earned runs. Loewen’s final ERA in Aderdeen was 2.74.

In 2004, Loewen split time between Delmarva and Fredrick.

In Delmarva, he pitched in 20 games (19 of them starts). His final record for his time in Delmarva was 4-5. In 85 innings, he would surrendered 39 earned runs. Other totals from his time were 82 K’s, 58 BB, 77 hits, and a final ERA of 4.13.

After Delmarva, Loewen would get his last 2 starts of 2004 in Fredrick. There he went 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. He went only a total of 8 innings, giving up 6 earned runs, surrendering 9 BB, and striking out only 3.

Loewen would start 2005 back in Fredrick. Over the season, he would make 27 starts (+ 1 relief appearence).  He pitched 142 innings that season. The totals for 2005 were a 10-8 record, 65 hits, 86 BB, 146 K, and an ERA of 4.16.

2005 had Loewen starting in Bowie. He went 4-2 there and sported an ERA of 2.90 in 47.2 innings. The other totals for his time there: 16 hits, 62 BB, and 98 K.

Loewen was then promoted to Ottawa, the former home of the Orioles’ triple A team. In 21.1 inning, he went 2-0 and had an ERA of 1.27. He would only surrendeder 3 ER, 3 walks, and struck out 21.

Here’s where the troubles arise. The Baltimore Orioles pitching staff of 2006 was in shambles. Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen had regressed to the point that they were moved to the bullpen. Daniel Cabrera was being moved back and forth between Baltimore and Ottawa. Russ Ortiz was brought in to fortify the bullpen, but that did not work out very well. The O’s needed a starter and had decided to bring up Hayden Penn. Penn, though, had to have an appendectimy before his major league debut against the Mariners. In the Oriole Way of the last decade, Loewen was rushed up from the minors in take the spot that Penn was supposed have.

Despite the fact that he was rushed up, Loewen had a decent stint with the O’s for the rest of 2006. He would go 6-6. His ERA was on the heavy side at 5.37. In 19 starts, he’d pitch 112.1 innings. He struck out 98 and walked 62.

Going into the 2007 season, the Orioles had a decision to make. According to Loewen’s contract, he had to be on the major league roster at the start of the season or the Orioles would risk losing him. So ready or not, Loewen was on the major league staff for good. He would only start 6 games before missing the rest of the season for shoulder surgery. He would pitch to a 3.56 ERA, walk 26, and strikeout 22.

This brings us to this season and so far, it hasn’t been a good start. I’m taking into account that he did have a screw inserted into his shoulder. This Spring, he walked 19 in 16.2 innings. I chalked this up to the fact that he had to come back from surgery. After last night’s game, my expectations lowered. His control was terrible. There was several times Ramon Hernandez had to stand up to catch the ball. He was in a jam most of the night, though he ended up walking only 2 batters.

With the fact the Orioles are rebuilding, Loewen’s going to have all season to prove that belongs in that rotation. I’m not expecting big things from him anymore. He came up with talk that he could be a number 1 or 2 pitcher. His development was stunted by the O’s for a couple reasons. He was rushed into the bigs because of the previous front office’s poor roster management and by bad negotiation. The lack of the depth and injuries made them bring him up. Really, mid-season last season or this spring should have been his debut. But aside from their poor planning, they negotiated a contract to where he had to be on the big league roster at the start of last season or risk losing him. It was a stupid clause, but that’s what they did and here we are. You can blame the old front office for rushing him, but you can’t blame his lack of control all of them. They’re not pitching.

I’m not sure Loewen’s going to be any better. His control is an issue and his stuff doesn’t look that good. Maybe during the course of season, he rights the ship and starts looking better or he could be a 5 inning pitcher that is bound to always be a pitch away from giving up a big inning every time he throws the ball. With Andy MacPhail’s emphasis on building the team around pitching and defense, Loewen will get every shot this season season to proves that he should have a spot in the rotation. But with MacPhail stocking up on young pitching, Loewen won’t have the long leash that other pitchers in the organization (like Daniel Cabrera) have gotten due to lack of organizational depth. I’m not sold that Loewen is going to be 1 of the 5 pitchers that the team can build around. In fact, I doubt it. John Sickels isn’t sold on him much either. It seems like the only team Loewen can handle is the Yankees. That’s awesome in its own right and you’d think that if he can handle the Yankees, then the Texas Rangers shouldn’t be a problem. But if you think that, then like me, you’re dead wrong. I’m not trying to be a knee-jerk reactionary on him because he looked bad last night. He’s started 27 games in his MLB career and his ERA is 5.14 and he’s walked 95 batters in that span. That’s an alarming number. He appears to be the Canadian Cabrera at this point, with less upside.

Maybe he can make it, maybe he can move to the bullpen, maybe or probably not. Who knows. But this is what rebuilding is about. We find out who can hack it and who can’t. I’m hoping that he turn it around this season, but he’s gotta look better than he did last night.