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Thoughts on Tampa Bay Rays rookie Brandon Lowe

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

From the Minor League Ball mailbag:

“You seemed to like Brandon Lowe when the Rays brought him to the majors but what do you think now that the season is over?”—-SP, Pearland, TX

The Tampa Bay Rays promoted Lowe to the majors on August 4th. A few days later, I wrote this article called “The Lowes of Tampa Bay” about Brandon, Joshua Lowe, and Nathaniel Lowe. Josh and Nate are brothers while Brandon is unrelated.

Brandon Lowe was a third round pick in 2015 from the University of Maryland. I had Brandon as a Grade B- pre-season. I kept that rating when he was promoted to the Show, noting that

“he made the necessary adjustments this year with the strike zone, boosting his walk rate to past standards along with a simultaneous power surge. . .He turned 24 in June and given his performance, bringing him to the majors now was a logical thing to do. The Rays are working to improve his defensive versatility. He is very reliable at second base in terms of not making errors but his range and arm aren’t good fits for shortstop or third. He’s been playing some left field this year with reasonable results. I think he’s probably a .260 hitter in the majors but with enough walks and isolated power to be a very solid producer.”

Lowe ended up hitting .239/.324/.450 in 129 at-bats for the Rays, with six homers, 16 walks, and 38 strikeouts in 129 at-bats. He retains rookie status for 2019 so he’ll be on the 2019 Rays prospect list.

His batting average came out some 20 points under what I expected but there’s enough OBP and power to push his wRC+ up to 113, safely above-average, and I still think he can hit .260 in a fuller sample. He made just one error in 219 innings at second base and didn’t embarrass himself in 103 innings in the outfield, so the point about defensive versatility stands.

Overall, yes, I still like Lowe and I think he’s a solid Grade B prospect who should have a long and productive career.

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