by Matthew Taylor
Adam Loewen faced hitters on Thursday for the first time since his surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left elbow, as reported by The Sun and The Post.
I love the literal use of the term "faced hitters," as described by Jeff Zrebiec: "Hitters rotated into the batter's box, but rarely swung at Loewen's offerings. The purpose of the exercise was for the starting pitcher to get comfortable again throwing to actual hitters."
It's akin to saying that I faced my fear of heights by looking at a bridge rather than crossing it.
Nevertheless, the development, a case of taking baby steps before walking, is a positive one for Loewen who, with the Erik Bedard trade, becomes the most intriguing young arm in the O's rotation.
Loewen's name popped up earlier this week in a New York Times article that had nothing to do with John McCain. The Times evaluated players selected by Billy Beane during Oakland's 2002 "Moneyball" draft.
Don't tell the folks at Chipola College that Loewen was drafted out of high school. The juco claims Loewen as one of its own.
Four of the seven players picked by Oakland (57 percent) among the first 39 picks in that draft have played in the majors, including Brown. Of the other 32 picks, 20 have played in the majors (62.5 percent).
The difference is in the number of high school players in those groups. Oakland drafted none while other teams selected 18, and 11 have played in the majors, including Prince Fielder, B. J. Upton, Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, James Loney, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Cain and Adam Loewen.
From Beane’s perspective, college position players are the safest selections while high school pitchers are the riskiest. Yet Hamels, Kazmir, Cain and Loewen are pitchers drafted out of high school.
Baseball America clarifies the situation following the 2002 draft: "The Orioles were offering around $2.5 million ... when negotiations broke down. Loewen headed to Chipola (Fla.) Junior College so he would still have an opportunity to sign with the Orioles or go right back into the draft if he didn't sign."
Things worked between the O's and Loewen, but thankfully the same couldn't be said for the Cincinnati Reds' 2002 (and 2001) draftee, Nick Markakis.
Again from Baseball America: "The Reds did not sign lefthander Nick Markakis, their 23rd-round pick from last year who came on strong this spring at Young Harris (Ga.) JC. Cincinnati offered Markakis a $1.5 million bonus, but he turned it down to try to do better in this year's draft. He is expected to go in the middle of the first round."