- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

NEW YORK Less than a half-hour before the start of yesterday's Major League Baseball first-year player draft, the Baltimore Orioles still weren't sure who two of the three teams ahead of them would select.
"It was just that type of year," scouting director Tony DeMacio said. "There was uncertainly right up until the end."
Ultimately, the Orioles were forced to wait while the Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Cincinnati Reds made the first three picks of the draft before they could settle on their selection. And though they didn't get the one impact position player they coveted Virginia high school shortstop B.J. Upton they were still ecstatic to come away with Canadian high school left-hander Adam Loewen with the fourth pick.
Loewen, a strong, 6-foot-6 southpaw from Surrey, British Columbia, is considered by many to have the highest "upside" of any player in what was considered a weak draft. The 18-year-old from Fraser Valley Christian High School throws a 92-94 mph fastball, a sharp-breaking curveball and a sinking changeup.
"He's strong, he's physical, he's 6-6, 200 right now. He's a man," said DeMacio, who has drafted a pitcher with his first pick in each of the last four years. "And considering where he comes from, we just thought there's a lot more in there."
Though his high school does not field a baseball team, Loewen (the highest-drafted Canadian player in history) has pitched for the national junior team the last three years. Baseball America ranked him the fourth-best high school prospect in the draft.
"He's really a little more advanced than some people think he is," DeMacio said. "We didn't feel like we were getting anything less by drafting a Canadian pitcher."
As always, signability will be a concern with first-round picks. But the Orioles will be patient with Loewen, who has signed a letter of intent to play at Arizona State. DeMacio said the club likely wouldn't attempt to strike any deals with agent Michael Moye until the top three picks pitcher Bryan Bullington, shortstop Upton and pitcher Chris Gruler sign.
The Orioles went after hitters with their next three picks, selecting Oklahoma high school first baseman/outfielder Corey Shafer, Rutgers University outfielder Walter Majewski and University of the Pacific outfielder Timothy Gilhooly in the second through fourth rounds.
Shafer, from Choctaw High School, is a left-handed power hitter and has drawn comparisons to a current veteran major league slugger.
"He's a good athlete, he's very physical," DeMacio said. "If you saw him in person, you'd swear you were looking at Ryan Klesko right now."
The Orioles also feel they caught a break with 11th-round pick Mark McCormick, an 18-year-old right-hander from Texas who had been considered a top-10 pick earlier in the year. Clubs were hesitant to select McCormick, though, because he is represented by super agent Scott Boras.
Twenty-two of the draft's 50 rounds were completed yesterday. DeMacio is just looking forward to finishing.
"The most disappointing thing about the draft this year is the lack of quality college pitching and college position players," he said. "For some reason, it just wasn't there. I've been doing this 20 years now, and this was probably the most difficult I've ever been involved with."

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