When Nate Lowe was selected in the 13th round of the 2016 draft, he received little attention.
He was a twenty-year-old slugging first baseman, who couldn’t run and could hardly field.
The big story was his younger brother, the Rays first round pick that year, Josh. Signing both Lowes made for a nice story, but Nate was not expected to have an impact.
He didn’t impress much during his first two seasons within the Rays system, posting a .783 OPS between the lower levels of the Rays minor league chart. The one tool that made him a decent prospect, his power, was scarcely on display as he managed just 11 HR over 757 plate appearances with a meager .407 slugging percentage.
Between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, however, Nate Lowe was transformed.
According to Marc Topkin’s writeup for Baseball America, Lowe starting getting in shape earlier in the offseason and participated in more workouts.
Lowe could always hit the ball hard, but just never in the right spot. He made an effort to get out in front of the ball more, give him the opportunity to use his plus power and lift the ball and to of course, keep hitting the hard, if not harder.
Ben Zobrist made a change like this at a crucial juncture in his career, too. After a few undistinguished years he made a number of adjustments, but most notably, at the suggestion of Rocco Baldelli, Zobrist began to swing harder. That’s why Rocco is now a manager and Ben is now Zorilla.
Lowe made a slight mechanical change at the plate that made a world of a difference in his results, as noted by the Baseball America staff in their scouting report on Lowe’s 2018 season.
He simplified and shortened a long swing that had always left him vulnerable to fastballs in. Pitchers soon learned that fastballs that used to tie him up turned into home runs. Lowe had always had good pitch recognition, and he had long been able to hit breaking balls and changeups. Getting more pull-oriented and looser at the plate paid off when he squared up more balls.
These changes allowed Lowe to excel in 2018. He broke out, finally showcasing his plus raw power and transitioning it into actual game results.
He started the year in Charlotte and proved early on he was much too advanced to remain at the level. After 51 games, hitting .356/.432/.588 with 10 home runs over 220 plate appearance in the offensively suppressed Florida State League, Lowe was promoted to Double-A.
With the Biscuits, posted even more impressive numbers as he belted 13 home runs and hit .340/.444/.606 over 225 plate appearances. The elder Lowe brother would be rewarded for his performance by his selection to the USA team in the annual Futures Game. H was also promoted to Triple-A.
While with the Bulls, Lowe didn’t quite enjoy as much success as he had in his previous two stops of the season. His strikeout percentage ballooned while his walk rate plummeted, along with his power numbers. Nonetheless Lowe emerged as one of the top offensive prospects in the Tampa Bay Rays system and was ranked their 9th overall prospect by Baseball America.
We’ll all be eager to see Lowe as he adjusts to the Triple A level in 2019, with a call up to St. Pete a real possibility.