Baltimore Orioles left-handed pitching prospect Zac Lowther is picking up right where he left off last season.
Lowther, 22, sports a 1-1 record, 1.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in three starts with Double-A Bowie early this year. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound southpaw carried an 8-4 record, 2.18 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 22 games with Frederick and Low-A Delmarva last season.
He's not yet seeing the strikeout numbers he racked up with High-A Frederick last season, when he struck out 11 batters per nine innings, but he's still getting hitters out.
"I know at the end of the [2018 season] I was feeling really good," Lowther said on
Glenn Clark Radio
April 16. "Being able to come into Double-A and continue to grow from last year -- add to my pitch repertoire, being able to show I can get guys out at the Double-A level successfully and efficiently, just being able to keep developing as a pitcher is going to be big."
The Orioles' No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Lowther was selected with the No. 74 overall pick in the 2017 draft after three dominant years at Xavier. He led the Big East in strikeouts as a sophomore and then set a school record for strikeouts (123) while finishing fourth in NCAA Division I in whiff rate (13.3) as a junior.
He commands a fastball that sits in the 87-91 mph range, but "the massive extension he generates to the plate, combined with his fast arm and slightly lower slot, gives the pitch a high spin rate and late riding life that enables him to consistently beat hitters within and above the strike zone," according to
"I'm not blowing it by anyone at high [velocities], but being able to locate with all my pitches is something that really came into focus during spring training, and really the development of my pitches," Lowther said. "Coming into Double-A, zones get tighter, hitters get better."
That's not to say Lowther hasn't faced adversity this season; he struggled against Harrisburg April 14. He threw 80 pitches in four innings and fewer than half for strikes. He walked five batters but allowed just two runs in a no-decision.
"After that game, I sat down and was like, 'OK, I did things really well, I did these things really bad,' and just kind of analyze it," Lowther said. "You take what you did really well, you carry that over. You take what you did really bad, you work on it. Then you just come back and know that that's not who you are."
Lowther bounced back at Akron April 20, allowing one run on three hits and two walks during five innings. Though he took the loss in a 2-0, seven-inning shutout, his command was back. He threw just 61 pitches and more than 60 percent for strikes.
Each start is an opportunity to develop for Lowther. Players in the Orioles' system understand the organization is building for the future -- and they can sense it in Bowie, according to Lowther.
"You're getting more internal competition and it's definitely creating better and better products from each individual," he said. "We know we're close, but we're still out here trying to work on all our stuff and get better as pitchers and people. It's good. I really enjoy it."
For more from Lowther, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan/Bowie Baysox