by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After thriving at both Double and Triple-A the Rays’ recalled Brandon Lowe. The question is, will he be able to make an impact? Before we answer that let’s look at the numbers he’s posted thus far in the minors:
- Double-A (199 AB) – .291, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 37 R, 8 SB
- Triple-A (181 AB) – .304, 14 HR, 35 RBI, 36 R, 0 SB
He only hit 11 HR over 410 AB last season, so it would be easy to say that the power isn’t sustainable. However he added 39 doubles and 4 triples last year and already had 31 doubles and 1 triple this season. With that type of extra base power it’s hard to argue against the pace he set at Double-A (which would be in the 23-27 HR range).
For a player who posted HR/FB of 9.2% and 8.0% at High-A and Double-A, respectively, last season he’s seen the mark balloon to 14.3% at Double-A and 25.0% at Triple-A. He is 24-years old and clearly has extra base power, so seeing him grow/mature into an improved mark is believable. The Triple-A mark seems extreme, but we’re buying all the same.
The bigger question is if he’ll ultimately be exposed at the Major League level in terms of his strikeout rate. Just look at his SwStr% // Strikeout Rate at each level in the minors:
- Double-A – 12.4% // 22.9%
- Triple-A – 13.2% // 22.9%
He clearly doesn’t have a terrible eye, having drawn walk rates of 14.6% and 10.7%. That said it’s easy to imagine the strikeout rate climbing, which ultimately will help to limit his potential.
Basically, what we’ve seen this season is an echo of the scouting report Baseball America had for him prior to the season:
An effective offensive player throughout his college career at Maryland due to his pitch recognition, disciplined approach and ability to work the count, Lowe increased his power in 2017 after shifting his hands away from his body during his setup. He has above-average bat speed with solid power and attacks pitches in the strike zone with his short, quick compact swing.
So basically we’d expect to see more of the same, though with not quite as much upside in his AVG (he benefited from a .360 and .339 BABIP in the minors). Think of him as a .260/20/70 type second baseman who will be a better fit for those in OBP formats given the walk rate. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the team gives him every day AB as opposed deploying him in a platoon role.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball America
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Midseason Rankings: