Back in the big leagues

Adam Loewen joins the Blue Jays

Five years after making his Major League Baseball debut, Adam Loewen will do it again this week.

The 27-year-old outfielder was called up from the minor leagues by the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday afternoon, and was in the lineup a day later in a game against the Boston Red Sox.

It will be his first game in The Show as an outfielder, capping a comeback that began shortly after he called it quits as a pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles in October, 2008.

“It’s a great success story for him to do what he did, and to get to this level, how many guys can actually do that?” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “And not as a charity case, but as someone who earned it.”

Loewen was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles fourth overall in the 2002 MBL draft as a left-handed pitcher. He is one of just four Canadians to be chosen in the first round of the MLB draft, and the highest pick of those four.

After three seasons in the minor leagues, he threw his first pitch as a major leaguer in 2006. But after an injury-plagued three-year stint in Baltimore in which he appeared in just 35 games, the former Whalley Chief called it quits – as a pitcher.

Not ready to walk away from the game after he was released by the Orioles, he signed with the Blue Jays as an outfielder, hoping to do what very few professional baseball players have ever done – start a career as a pitcher, before becoming a positional player.

Starting at the lowest levels of the minor leagues, Loewen began to work on his hitting, a skill he hadn’t done regularly since playing at Chipola Junior College in the spring of 2003.

He began his comeback with Dunedin in the single-A Florida State League, but struggled at first, hitting just .192. But over the next four months, his average was up to .254.

He was promoted to double-A New Hampshire of the Eastern League for the 2010 season, hitting .236 with four home runs and 31 runs batted in (RBIs). He began this season with the triple-A Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League. Loewen posted a .306 batting average with 17 home runs and 85 RBIs in 134 games. The six-foot-six right fielder also stole 11 bases.

“His swing is so much better than when we first signed him – night and day,”  Anthopoulos said. “His approach, he can draw a walk, he’s moving better in the outfield…”

As part of the Blue Jays expanded 40-player roster, Loewen will be given a good look before the 2012 season’s 23-player roster is named next spring.

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