The Rays farm system is stacked. In their most recent positional prospect rankings, MLB Pipeline as placed two Rays prospects among the top first base prospects in baseball.
Brendan McKay, who was named the top 1B prospect entering last spring, is now the 4th best among first base prospects. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Lowe, is now the 3rd best first base prospect in baseball.
MLB Pipeline’s top 10 1B prospects
- Peter Alonso, Mets
- Evan White, Mariners
- Nathaniel Lowe, Rays
- Brendan McKay, Rays
- Brent Rooker, Twins
- Nick Pratto, Royals
- Triston Casas, Red Sox
- Grant Lavigne, Rockies
- Tyler Nevin, Rockies
- Matt Thaiss, Angels
Lowe enjoyed a breakout season in 2018. The elder Lowe brother toiled in the low minors heading into 2018 and hadn’t really found his niche. However, a mechanical change allowed him to tap into his raw power and it led to him belting 27 home runs over the course of the season and rising all the way up to Triple-A. Lowe isn’t on the 40-man roster, but should be in spring training and he may actually compete to be the Rays starting first baseman.
McKay has already been featured by MLB Pipeline this month, being ranked as the 3rd best left-handed pitching prospect in the game. His offensive prowls are a bit behind his pitching, but nonetheless, he is still among the best first base prospects out there.
While spotlighting the prospects, the Pipeline noted that Lowe was the highest riser and came from the humblest beginnings.
Highest Riser: Lowe
Lowe hit just seven homers in his first full pro season and ranked 13th on MLB Pipeline’s Rays Top 30 Prospects list a year ago. After making adjustments to his swing, he slammed 27 homers during his coming-out party in 2018 and should push for a big league role with Tampa Bay, which lacks a surefire starter at first base or DH.
Humblest Beginning: Lowe
When the Rays signed Lowe for $100,000 as a 13th-rounder out of Mississippi State in 2016, it was seen as a favor to his younger brother Josh, whom they selected 13th overall in the first round of the same Draft. Two years later, Nathaniel had surpassed him as a prospect.
The Pipeline also wrote that McKay had the most to prove, as he’ll look took to put an injury plagued 2018 behind him and breakout offensively in 2019.
Most To Prove: McKay
Trying to make it as both a hitter and a pitcher is a difficult task. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, McKay lived up to his reputation as being more advanced on the mound by logging a 2.41 ERA with a 103/14 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings on the mound in his first full pro season. He batted just .214/.368/.359, however, and he’ll have to up his production if he wants to continue pulling double duty.
Next, MLB Pipeline will move onto the top second base prospects in baseball. The Rays have a vast amount of middle infield prospects with Vidal Brujan, Nick Solak, and Brandon Lowe possibly making the cut.