Growing up in Spring, Texas outside of Houston, pitching was not always Thad Lowry’s number one forte. He often could be found behind the plate catching for Spring High School during the early years of his high school career. Then as he entered his upper class years, his coaches, opponents, and scouts began to take notice that Lowry was reaching the mid to high 90’s on the mound and he began his transition to full-time pitcher and in the baseball world big time draft prospect.
While his stock was rising based on his future potential on the mound, Lowry also had his eyes set on college. He was aiming to continue his baseball development and education at Texas Tech as the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft approached. While he was set on college, he also had in his mind a scenario that would allow him to jump right into the professional ranks if everything played out right. In the 5th round on the 2013 draft the White Sox selected Lowry and proposed an offer that matched Lowry’s demands to bypass college. The right hander signed with the White Sox and was quickly assigned to Bristol, the White Sox Appalachian League team at the time.
There was a lot for the White Sox to like about their new pitcher. Scouts liked that Lowry was relatively new to the mound. They liked that his fast ball could reach the mid nineties and that there was room for the pitch as well as all secondary offerings to grow and develop with the teachings of their pitching coaches and coordinators. Standing at 6’4 the White Sox also liked the young pitchers frame and his potential to turn into a durable pitcher in the years to come. It was their job to turn Lowry’s raw abilities into a quality pitcher on the mound.
During his first season in pro-ball, Lowry started the season working out of the Bristol bullpen until an injury in the starting rotation opened up an opportunity for him to take the ball every fifth day. In 15 appearances (seven starts) he amassed a total of 44.1 innings of work compiling a 3-5 record. He fanned 30 batters but also struggled with walks as many young pitchers do, walking 22 during the season.
For many young players of Lowry’s age they would spend the following year working on their development at extended spring training before starting their next season at a short season affiliate but that was not the case for Lowry. While he started out in April working extended spring training, the White Sox assigned him to their South Atlantic League affiliate, the Kannapolis Intimidators. As a member of the Intimidators he immediately joined the starting rotation and started a total of 17 games. Lowry went 4-6 on the season with an ERA of 4.76, he continued to develop his delivery and his pitches. In 87 innings of work he improved his control walking batters at a rate of 3/9 innings and turned in one of the top pitching performances for the team on the mound.
In just his fourth full-season start, Lowry pitched a rain shorten five-inning no-hitter. While it wasn’t a full nine innings he still held the West Virginia Power out of the hit column for five an accomplishment that cannot go unnoticed for a 19-year old pitcher facing hitters on average almost three years older than him.
Entering the 2015 season the White Sox assigned Lowry back to the Kannapolis Intimadators to start the season and Lowry has improved on his 2014 results across the board. In 14 starts, Lowry leads the team in many pitching categories including wins (8), innings pitched (85), and strike outs (62). He also continues to improve his control and has only walked batters at a rate of 2.2/9 innings in 2015. Lowry also has been keeping hitters off-balance and letting up fewer hits to his opponents and currently has a career best 1.23 WHIP.
The hard work Lowry has put in with the coaches and coordinators since joining the White Sox is paying dividends but more work needs to be done as Lowry continues to fine tune his delivery and secondary pitches. It remains to be seen if the White Sox will challenge the Texas native with a late season promotion or they will wait until next season to bump him up to the next level. He wont have to travel far when that challenge arrives as his next stop, Winston-Salem, is just a short drive down the road in North Carolina.
Seven Questions With Thad Lowry
1. Take us back to your draft day, what was it like to be drafted? Where were you when you found out?
On draft day I was just sitting in my home, going over phone calls and scenarios with everybody, and the White Sox called me the day before and made an offer that was pretty much what I wanted to turn pro and it came down to that. The White Sox and Rockies both wanted to select me in the fifth round and the White Sox were the team to select me. I was surprised it was the White Sox because I thought they were on the less interested side leading up to the draft. You can’t always go off of what people say though because when it comes to draft day no one really knows what to expect.
2. You weren’t always a pitcher in your career. Tell us how and why you made the switch from catcher to pitcher?
I started making the transition in high school. I would occasionally pitch in high school but not on a regular basis. I would just get out there and wing it on the mound. I was mainly a catcher in high school and that is what I focused on, and I was originally recruited by colleges as a catcher. My junior year things started to click as a pitcher and scouts started to take notice and would come up to me and make suggestions on how I should make the full-time transition to the mound.
3. Give us a scouting report on yourself, what pitches do you throw and what is your approach on the mound?
Now since I am a little more tuned as a pitcher I work at a much faster tempo than I used to in previous years. Right now I throw a fastball dominant game and I also throw and change-up and slider. Those pitches are usually up in the air on which one is working better on a given day. Sometimes it’s the change-up and sometimes it’s the slider as the pitch to throw that day. The change-up is pretty new to me because during my high school years I was a splitter guy so I never threw a change-up so it is more of a new pitch that I am working on developing. This year I see my slider has really developed a lot more and I am starting to be able to use both pitches and trust both of them when I’m on the mound.
4. Since you are on the newer side of pitching, your coaches are an important part of your development. Tell me about what you coaches are helping you work on and how they have helped you develop into the pitcher you have become thus far in your career.
One of the biggest coaches I work with is José Bautista and every single day we always have something new to work on. Our pitching coordinator Curt Hasler always talks about the importance of fastball command with the pitchers and I think that the thing worked on the most this year in spring training was staying back on the mound and not rushing up forward. When I can stay back on the mound and balance back setting my weight before I engage to the plate my velocity rises and everything seems to work into place.
5. You have had a lot of success so far early in your career including a 5-inning no-hitter in 2014. Can you take us back to that day and tell us how it felt to be a part of a no-hitter even though it was only 5-innings.
It was a great experience. It wasn’t even crossing my mind, I was just going out there and trusting my approach every single inning and I had some great defense behind me. When the game ended in the 5th inning everyone start yelling out that it was a no-hitter, the rain just came out of nowhere and I was like “Wow! That really just happened”. It was a great feeling.
6. In the first half of the season you totaled 8 wins and had a successful first half of the season. What has led to your success in the first half of the season?
I just want to help the team win and stay in games. Wins are a stat that you can’t really read into them too much because you can have 10 wins and have a 10 ERA also. Sometimes that is how the game works. If the batters are hot that day and you’re not, you can still pick up a win. It always seems that the offense and the defense answers when I am out there on the mound and I can help finish it off.
7. What do you need to do to improve on this year and into the future to continue to advance in the White Sox organization?
I need to continue to work on my fastball command and not get too slider happy. Lately that has been an issue, in some recent starts I started getting into the 30% range with my slider but that has calmed down a little bit. The biggest thing that I have been working on is to improve controlling damage when you have a couple of guys on base you can’t let that turn into anger on the mound. If you do that you’re going to end up making stupid choices. If I continue to execute my pitches and control my damage I will produce innings that maybe only one run scores instead of three runs scoring if I get into that kind of trouble.
A Few For Fun
1. Who was your favorite players growing up?
Mike Marriott – He went to my high school and he raised me as one of his own. He is the guy who taught me the mentality to be on the mound.
Mike Jackson – He played for the White Sox as well and he helped teach me how to handle my self.
2. Who is the biggest prankster on the Kannapolis Intimidators?
That would have to be Christian Stinger – He is one of those guys that got jokes for days.
3. Give us one completely random fact about yourself?
I play the guitar and I like to wonder off randomly and go fishing whenever I get a chance.
A special thanks to the voice of the Intimators Josh Feldman ( @ ) for helping set up our interview and to Thad Lowry for taking some time out of his busy regular season schedule talk some baseball prior to his game past week. Once again please give him a follow at @ and follow us at @CTD_Sypien as we follow Thad during the season as he works hard to achieve his goals and make progress towards the major leagues.