ST. PETERSBURG — When the Rays traded Austin Meadows to the Tigers and promoted outfield prospect Josh Lowe to the Opening Day roster, it showed just how much Tampa Bay’s front office believed in Lowe. As if the Rays’ actions didn’t speak loudly enough, president of baseball operations Erik Neander’s words made it clear.
“He has the potential to be an All-Star player,” Neander said then. “That’s how we see him.”
Lowe flashed some of that potential during the Rays’ season-opening sweep of the Orioles, getting on base in five of his 12 plate appearances, while putting his power and speed on full display Saturday with a 106.7 mph line drive that turned into a standup triple.
“He’s going to impact us in all facets of his game,” manager Kevin Cash said.
The funny thing about Lowe’s first full series in the Majors was what stood out the most. When you talk to evaluators about the 24-year-old, you hear about his physical tools — his power and speed, his arm strength, his range in the outfield, stuff like that.
But then Lowe came out this weekend and put together some of the Rays’ most impressive at-bats. In six of his first nine plate appearances, Lowe worked the count full, emblematic of a lineup that grinded out at-bats and wore out Orioles pitchers all series long.
Brandon Lowe said it was “really impressive to see a guy like that be so mature in his approach.” Cash said “[Josh Lowe’s] at-bats might be the highlight of the series offensively,” which was saying something after Sunday’s complete performance.
“He’s not in a hurry to get the at-bat over with. If he falls behind, he knows he’s got the ability to extend the at-bat,” Cash said. “Early on, if he likes a pitch, he also knows he has the ability to jump all over it and feel confident that he’s making the right decision. So, very impressed with his at-bats to date.”
Lowe said he felt “comfortable” seeing so many pitches — 5.2 per plate appearance, to be specific — and figures it’s “just a matter of time before I start squaring up” some of those he’s been fouling off. But much like Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Díaz, corner infielders not necessarily known for their power, Lowe appreciates the impact he can have on the Rays’ lineup just by working tough at-bats and driving up opponents’ pitch counts.
He wasn’t out to show everything he can do all in one weekend, but he offered a pretty good glimpse of the potential that Neander mentioned.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for people to go out and try and prove they can do everything on one day. It’s a really long year,” Lowe said, smiling. “Over the course of the season, I’m going to prove it to everybody. But yeah, I’m just excited for the rest of the year and to win a lot more games.”