Zac Lowther, LHP, BAL

He’s climbing levels, and the numbers look good, so why don’t the scouts give Zac Lowther more love?

  • Born: April 30, 1996
  • B/T: Left/Left
  • 6’2″, 235-lbs
  • Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Xavier University.

The Numbers

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His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year and then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

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We see quite a bit of green, but the story with Lowther was always pitchability over stuff, and the fear was that upper levels of the minors wouldn’t be as fooled by his great spin and deception.

That does appear to be happening, doesn’t it? Every metric is moving backward as he moves forward through levels. Up a level he goes, down the WHIP, K% and K%-BB% goes.

He needs to watch that walk rate.

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There we see it: the hit rate was similar against righties and lefties, but the walk rate more than doubled against lefties and took that WHIP right down with it.

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Fairly even with a bit more to left field.

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And here is that trend visually. He hit High-A doing well, and as the summer went on the strikeouts slid and the walks elevated. Then in 2019 he never was able to get going until around August when he barely got himself back to his career average by the beginning of September.

Looking in the BaseballHQ.com Minor League Baseball Analyst book, we see that Lowther has three pitches in his arsenal:

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Lowther doesn’t blow them away with speed, but he uses a very high spin rate on his fastball, and a low release point from his high-3/4s delivery to make it very hard for a batter to square up against him. His hit rate is routinely quite low as a result (oppBA of .194 for his minor league career, and yes, AA was right in there too at .197).

As we saw above, however, his stuff works better against righties.

His changeup is his best secondary, and it comes with solid arm-side fade. He has a decent curve as well, and is working on a slider.

So while the spin rate is plus, all it does it make his fastball a good pitch, but it doesn’t have the velocity to be a plus pitch.

This is the skill set of a #4 starter, one whose WHIP will vary with his walk rate, but who might be good at keeping the hits down.

 

 

The Scouts

 

 

Warnings

Lowther needs to stop his skill trend lines, like, right now! If he kept his AA rates, it would be fine, but if it keeps sliding in AAA and then the majors, it could get ugly.

Will that spin and deception fool major leaguers?

Conclusion

I root for pitchers like Lowther, guys without the pure physical gifts, but who use skill and deception to get the job done.

That said, there’s a limit to how good such guys get. And there’s a ceiling if you don’t have those plus pitches.

But the Orioles would love a steady #4 pitcher. If you could use such a pitcher on your roster, well, he’s only a year or so away.

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