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Controversial Prospect: Jed Lowrie

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Controversial Prospect Jed Lowrie:

I expect the most controversial rating in the 2008 Baseball Prospect Book will be the Grade A- grade for Jed Lowrie. Most people see him as a Grade B+/Grade B type guy. The arguments were rehashed in previous threads.

Here is the comment from the book. I've included his statistical lines.

Jed Lowrie had a mediocre '06 season in the Carolina League, but he was injured much of the time. Fully healthy in '07, he rebounded with an excellent campaign in Double-A and Triple-A, posting +24 OPS and and +18 OPS respectively. He has good power for a middle infielder, and 47 doubles indicates that more could be on the way. He has excellent strike zone judgment, and aside from his injury-plagued season at Wilmington, he's hit for a high average in pro ball. He also looked better defensively in '07, showing enough range for shortstop. The Red Sox are very high on him, and other teams have asked about him in trades. I think he is one of the best prospects in baseball.Grade A-.

I can see the case to make him a Grade B+. He turns 24 in April, and there are still some questions about his range at shortstop. The comment assumes that the Red Sox are right about him being able to remain at short. But on the other hand, the points I make in the comment remain valid. He does have a shot at increasing his power beyond where it is. He's been a very productive hitter at every stop, except when he was injured in 2006. I love his combination of strike zone judgment and pop. He's also fundamentally sound, intelligent, and has good "make-up," hard attributes to measure but there nonetheless.

Here's the deal though. At one point I almost changed him to Grade B+. But something held me back. This isn't scientific, of course, but my instincts say to leave him at A-, that he's got a chance to be better than even the optimists expect right now. Sometimes such gut feelings can lead us astray, of course, but I also think that such feelings are often due to pattern recognition working on a subconscious level.

We will revisit this as the year progresses, and if I'm wrong I will certainly owe up to it. But there is something here triggering my "stick with the original grade" feeling, and that's what I'm going to do.

Tomorrow we will look at Engel Beltre of the Rangers.