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There are few teams as fun to watch, from an organizational standpoint, as the Tampa Bay Rays. You can rightfully despise the low-budget philosophy of their ownership all you want, but the way the organization operates is nothing short of beautiful and brilliant.
San Francisco Giants fans, of course, are all too familiar with this, as they’ve been on the receiving end of two recent Rays trades that somehow look even worse now than they did at the time. But I digress. This post is about those glorious Rays, who are attempting to give the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox hell, despite having a payroll that would qualify as an allowance if the Yankees were to have kids.
Those Rays are making a move, calling up powerful first baseman Nate Lowe.
Lowe is the epitome of a Rays prospect. When you think of the Rays, and the way they operate, you might as well just see Lowe’s face.
In 90 plate appearances with the AAA Durham Bulls this year, Lowe walked 17 times, against 19 strikeouts. Add in the two times he was plunked, and he had as many free passes to first base as strike threes.
It’s 2019. A 1:1 free pass to strikeout ratio is enough to make any smart general manager drool.
But of course Lowe is a first baseman, so the ability to actually hit the ball well is important too. Lowe had 21 hits in those 90 plate appearances, and 11 of those hits were of the extra base variety.
Add that all up, and you have a slash line of .300/.444/.543, good for an OPS of .987, and a wRC+ of 156.
He can hit.
Giants fans are familiar with the last name “Lowe” adorning Rays jerseys. When Tampa Bay visited San Francisco earlier in the season, they brought with them Brandon Lowe. The Rays now have two Lowes, but they also have two different pronunciations of the surname.
If you think that’s confusing, just wait another year. Nate’s younger brother, Josh Lowe, is currently hitting .274/.386/.548 for Tampa Bay’s AA team.
Nate Lowe not only represents the organizational strength of the Rays, but he is the poster child for why good development in the minor leagues is so vital. Lowe was never supposed to be a hot prospect. He was drafted in the 13th round of 2016. That was less than three years ago!
But he flew up the system, and while he deserves the bulk of the credit for that, Tampa Bay deserves plenty of praise for how they developed the powerful hitter. He started last year in High-A. We’re only a month into the season and he’s making his MLB debut. That’s some darn good development.
To make room for Lowe, the Rays are designating pitcher Andrew Moore for assignment, and optioning Christian Arroyo to Durham. Arroyo, of course, was the second biggest piece the Giants gave Tampa Bay in the Evan Longoria trade (the first biggest piece being the willingness to take back Evan Longoria).