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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 30, 2B Brandon Lowe

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Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-All Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This “low” ranking may raise a few eyebrows in light of Lowe’s previous position, but the end year performance in AA really tempered expectations among some DRB writers.

No.30, 2B Brandon Lowe, 23 yrs old

Born: July 6th, 1994 in Newport News, VA

Height/Weight: 6’0” 185 lbs Bats/Throws: L/R

Signed: by the Rays after selecting him in the 3rd rd of the 2015 draft for $697,500

Twitter handle: @Sweet_n_Lowe5

Twitter profile statement:Current player in the Tampa Bay Rays organization UMD Baseball alum”

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 98th best draft prospect pre-MLB Draft (selected 87th)
  • Ranked as the 20th best prospect in the FSL in 2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 25th
  • Low: 44th

Brandon Lowe: Abilities

  • Above-average hitter
  • Developing power
  • Pitch recognition
  • Below-average to average defensive abilities

Scouting grades 2017 (Pipeline): Hit: 55 | Pwr: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

  • Abilities notes: Footwork and defensive abilities at 2B, as well as struggles once at the AA level are what got Lowe knocked back on our list, but nobody denies he is an above-average hitter, something that helps him maintain a high floor.

Joined the Rays by way of....

The draft, where he was taken in the 3rd rd

Latest Transaction: August 2nd, 2017 assigned to Montgomery (AA) from Charlotte (A+)

Note - Lowe’s promotion was well earned and there was no doubt that he was ready to be tested in AA, but his OPS dropped by 268 points in AA, showing he’ll need to make some adjustments as he likely begins the season there in 2018.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Wore #5 at Maryland and #1 for Montgomery
  • His Sports hero is Mariners 2B Robinson Cano.
  • Missed the entire 2013 season due to injury.
  • Earned FSL MVP in 2017.
  • Post-season all-star team member in the FSL, 2017.
  • Made the Arizona Fall League All-Star Team
  • Made the MLB Pipeline Top 2B prospects list,

Stats

Brandon Lowe 2017

GP 114
GP 114
PA 449
AB 410
Hits 122
Doubles 39
Triples 4
Home Runs 11
RBI 58
SB (CS) 7 (4)
AVG 0.298
OBP 0.375
SLG 0.330
OPS 0.493
BB% 10.5%
SO% 19.4%
ISO 0.195
BAbip 0.356
wOBA 0.395
wRC+ 152

Stats Notes: Lowe’s 34 doubles, 9 HR, and 62 Runs in Charlotte were enough to make him the leader in those categories on the year despite leaving early, and he also managed to tie Jake Cronenworth for the lead in walks with 47.

Interesting Comparison: Joe Panik

  • A fellow LHB with similar frame (6’1” 190 lbs for Panik, 6’0” 185 lbs for Lowe), Panik was at a similar age and level while working through the minors.
  • However, instead of just a taste of AA at 23 yrs old, Panik managed a full season at 22 yrs old and wound up with a .680 OPS over 599 PA with 35 XBH, 10 SB, 58 BB, and 68 SO.
  • The biggest difference between the two as they headed through their respective systems is that Panik was praise for at least some aspects of his defensive abilities, whereas Lowe’s defensive woes may push him to LF down the road. To this point, his defensive abilities have been noted as “fringe average”, although injuries prior to 2017 may have something to do with that (broken left fibula in 2015 and torn ACL in 2013).

Notes for 2018 and beyond

Brandon Lowe can hit, and has hit at an above-average level on every team he’s played on until he reached AA last year and struggled some. After hitting .311/.403/.524 in HiA (at 22 yrs old) he was promoted and hit .253/.270/.389 (small 95 AB sample alert). And over his last 10, things weren’t getting any better (.184 avg), so hoping for a slow start that ramped up as the season ended is not an option.

It’s hard to say exactly why Lowe struggled so much upon being promoted to AA, but there are some indicators we can look at for part of the answer. First, he managed an impressive 12.8% BB% in HiA with a 17.7% SO%, but that changed to just 2% BB% combined with a 25.7% SO% in AA.

Lowe may have gotten more aggressive at the plate, pitchers may have been more aggressive (he saw 70% strikes in AA vice 61% in HiA) or he may have have been attacked differently by pitchers in AA, but either way he struggled to get on base. On a positive note, however, he did show a more patient approach in the Arizona Fall League where he managed 9 BB and 14 BB through 58 AB (hit .224/.354/.762) which is closer to where he was in HiA.

Other indicators that dropped in AA were his BAbip from .366 to .319, and his FB% which dropped 4%, both of which impacted his numbers negatively overall and led to a drop in ISO from .213 to .137.

Will Lowe will be able to make the required adjustments to get back to his HiA 2017 form, or has AA pitching exposed his limitations?

Those questions, combined with his below-average defensive play explain he is not more highly ranked. You either buy the HiA dominance, or you don’t.

Either way, Lowe will get a chance to prove to all that his bat came make it back to form. With some work on his defensive play and with his bat carrying him to MLB, there’s a chance he earns a regular 2B role in MLB, but he may initially have to do so in a utility role if that happens with the Rays (Adames, Arroyo, and Duffy stand ahead of him in the infield), so he may get some looks at other positions to increase versatility (1B, 3B and LF all being possibilities).

For 2018, he’ll likely continue on in AA and try to build on a good showing in the AFL and likely spend the majority of the season in Montgomery.

Brandon Lowe: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 50 Rays Prospects

#50 - RP Kevin Gadea