In the MLB draft, a lot goes into making the right selection.
Drafting and developing quality major league talent has to be one of the more difficult front office tasks in all of sports, as the road to the show is seemingly omnipresent with roadblocks and detours for players.
With the great infrequency of actually hitting on major league talent in the draft, teams look to evaluate hey myriad aspects of a potential draftee to determine if he will actually succeed: recent performance, his skill set, physical makeup, and even psychological makeup.
The psychological makeup of a recently drafted player, while rarely analyzed in the online baseball community, may have played a huge roll in where he was drafted.
Matt Silverman, the Rays President of Baseball Operations, hints that Lowe’s mental makeup played a role in the Rays drafting Lowe. Check out these quotes from Silverman.
Matt Silverman on the first round selection
"I echo what Rob said. We really like his athleticism. We really like the power. The profile is one that we think can have success. You have to have patience with high school players, it is a long development path, but we think he has the ingredients and we think he has the desire and ambition to go out there and compete and fulfill his major league dreams."
"It is hard to make sense of the draft. We don’t spend too much time predicting who is going to come to us. We put ourselves in position, we have put our board together and we are ready to make the pick when it is ours. We were very happy to have his name there, available to us, happy to have gotten to get the chance to get to know him. We had him here for a workout, he showed the power, and he interacted well with our staff. It is the kind of kid that you want to root for and the kind of kid you want in your system."
Lowe has the tools, which is why he was drafted in the first round, and Silverman is not shy to highlight Lowe's skills.
"When we look at these players, handedness comes into play. The left-handed power is something that distinguishes him from a number of the players we were looking at. The hit-grade, the power-grade those are things that matter. I don’t think that is one of the things that we necessarily look for left-handed bat, but the more you have in your system, the better off you are. When we’re drafting high school players, it is a long road. You aren’t talking about specific timing with these guys, but we hope a few years from now, he is going to be in a position to be an asset and put us in a position to succeed."
It’s a long road, especially for a high schooler, which Silverman notes twice above. And we see it all the time; the exceptional high school talent who burns out in the lower minor leagues because they fail to develop. A kid who is going to succeed needs to have the drive. And as Silverman says, he believes Lowe has the "desire and ambition" to make it.
Silverman thinks Lowe’s head is in the right place, which is a great starting point. That is what you love to hear about a recent draftee. Nobody wants a Jamarcus Russell on their hands. Let’s look at Lowe further. Checkout this interview and tell me you don’t love this kid.
Lowe on his reaction to being drafted by the Rays:
"I am definitely blessed to be with such an amazing organization. I just wanted to thank the entire Rays organization and everybody who has been through this to make me their first selection. It is an honor and I can’t wait to get started. More importantly, thanking my parents and my family, my high school coaches, my brother, my agent and everybody else who has helped me through this process and my Lord and Savior."
"I don’t know what the timeline is right now. I guess I will come out when we have the first home game, but I am looking forward to playing. I am excited and ready to get on the road and get this thing going."
Lowe is so excited to join this franchise, he’s even complimented the stadium; bless him:
"It is definitely a very cool stadium. I don’t know how many stadiums you get to walk into every day and have an entire closed dome so you always can expect to play, that is pretty sweet. The turf is really fun to get on and run on. I wasn’t expecting any bad hops and I think the workout went really well. I think that contributed to why I got picked by them."
Let’s stop for a second and breakdown what has been said.
First, it looks like signability won’t be an issue. Lowe is ready to go. This is always great news for a team. Lowe also shows here that he is eager to get his professional career started. He lacks the timidness expected from an 18 year old kid thrust into the spotlight.
Next, he loves the Trop! Or he at least can see the positives. His clear dedication to the game as well as his positive attitude are really on display in the quote above.
Third, he was drafted as a two-way player with a 95 MPH arm. He has a passion for the game and work ethic that seem evident, even in these quotes on his preference to remain a position player:
"I am excited if the organization thinks I can help them best as a third baseman and help them win that is what I am looking forward to do. I know I will work as hard as I possibly can to be the best third baseman in the entire organization and the league, eventually. If that is where they think I can help them win and bring championships to them, then I will do that, but if they need me to do something else and go to a new position, I will be just as happy to do that, as well... [but when asked for a concluding statement] I like hitting more than pitching."
A couple years ago over at Baseball Prospectus, Russell A. Carleton wrote a great article on the importance of the mental makeup of an MLB draftee, where he cited passion for the game as a key part of a players mental makeup.
Carleton says the key question about a prospect "is whether the prospect has the will to actualize his natural talent."
For a player to actually realize his natural skill and develop, he has to dedicate his life to baseball. He has to work hard everyday on getting better. which means he has to like baseball enough to play it with 100 % effort everyday.
And fortunately for us Rays fans, Lowe clearly has a love for the game. For more on Lowe’s passion , check out this story on Baseball America about his love of baseball and his family that literally breathes baseball.
By the Rays assessment, and possible our own from some conversational glimpses above, Lowe has the skills, makeup and attitude to become a productive major leaguer; however, we should still take these quotes with a grain of salt. Certainly a lot of things can happen from here, and who knows if Lowe will actually "make it" in the long run.
With that said, Lowe seems to have his head is on straight, with a desire to work hard, and has an distinguishable passion for the game. I can’t wait to see what the man from Marietta can achieve.
Quotes courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.