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Lowe Brothers Prepare To Go High In Draft

MARIETTA, Ga.—Josh Lowe loves baseball so much that as he draws closer to likely being drafted in the first round in June, he said that he and his family “eat, sleep and breathe” the sport.

Sounds like hyperbole, right?

A quick study reveals that the only exaggeration is in his skill set.

The recently graduated third baseman/righthander from Marietta’s Pope High entered the Georgia Class 6A semifinals batting .407 with 11 home runs, 38 RBIs and a .605 on-base percentage, plus a 1.71 ERA, six saves and a 95 mph fastball.

Those are definitive numbers, and he’s not the only seamhead from his home north of Atlanta.

Nathaniel Lowe, a junior first baseman at Mississippi State, may be a first-day selection, and the Mariners in 1986 drafted their father David in the fifth round. (He didn’t sign.) Add the fact that Wendy Lowe has spent so much time watching games that relatives have asked if she’s nuts, and the Lowes are certified.

“We are truly, truly a baseball family,” David said. “We have sacrificed in many ways . . . but it’s been very important to us in raising two God-fearing young men who are gifted at playing baseball.”

Lowe’s skill set creates so many options that Pope head coach Terry Rowland wouldn’t be surprised if he transitions to center field as a pro, as scouts project.

“He’s a 6.5 (seconds) 60-yard guy, and those don’t come around often,” said Rowland, whose team won state titles in Georgia’s big school classification in 2009 and 2013—when Nathaniel hit a walk-off grand slam.

“He tracks balls well . . . glides to the ball and has a cannon for an arm. He’s 95 (mph) across the infield now.”

Lowe handles himself quite nicely on the mound with 28 strikeouts in 16 innings, thrown mostly as the Greyhounds’ closer.

Might he pitch if he attends Florida State?

“That wouldn’t be my No. 1 choice,” he said. “I’m comfortable with a bat in my hands. I would just say whatever the team needs, that’s what I’ll do.”

David Lowe wasn’t comfortable with a bat, but he could bring the cheese. With a big fastball and a “nasty slurve,” he pitched his Satellite Beach, Fla., high school to a state title his senior year. He was also quite a linebacker and committed to play football and basketball at Vanderbilt.

Then he was nominated for a spot in the Naval Academy.

“I always wanted to be an astronaut,” he said. “We were 22 miles from Cape Canaveral (growing up), and we’d go to the beach and watch the end of the Apollo series and the space shuttles take off. Pro baseball was not even a consideration.

“The calling to be a fighter pilot and to be an astronaut was too great. Between my junior and seniors seasons, I played for Team USA in the Intercontinental Cup, and a Mets scout said, ‘Do you know how many millions of dollars you are (giving) away by being in the Navy?’ I said, ‘No, but I don’t care.’ “

David spent 20 years in the Navy, though when the time came to choose test-pilot school—the path toward becoming an astronaut—he “took Top Gun because tactics was a lot more fun.”

Even when Lowe was away on overseas deployments, his boys played ball around the clock. At the family home in Virginia, David created a training compound of sorts.

“We didn’t have dining-room furniture,” said Wendy, who ran track and played basketball in high school. “We had a basketball goal, plastic golf clubs, baseballs that were squishy, a riding tractor, a slide. It was a full play room, not a dining room.”

Though the Lowe boys are righthanded, they both hit from the left side.

“They always had an affinity for swinging things,” David said. “And it was at a very young age when we saw they had . . . hand-eye coordination.

“Both threw righthanded, but Nathaniel picked up (golf clubs) lefthanded, and we didn’t touch anything. Josh would just mimic Nathaniel, and we let them go.”

Like their father, the Lowe brothers have long wielded big arms, yet they abandoned football in the middle of their high school careers, each with an idea unlike Dad’s—to take baseball as far as possible.

“I’m not going to give hard numbers,” David said, “but (it will need to be) money that will allow (Josh), if he does what he’s supposed to . . . (will) leave him so that if, God forbid something happens or doesn’t work out, he’s not going to be on welfare.”

That’s been a lot of time and money spent on training, equipment, instruction and summer-ball travel, but the Lowes wouldn’t change their family affair.

“A couple years ago, one of David’s brothers said, ‘Wendy, I wonder how many hours you’ve sat on bleachers?’ ” Wendy said. “We’d go to all those towns nobody wanted to go to. Now you see why.”

— Matt Winklejohn is a freelancer based in Atlanta

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