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Nate Lowe Perfects His Hitting Approach

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Nate Lowe walked to the podium in the hotel ballroom and commanded the attention of the 300 or so Tampa Bay area business leaders, baseball fans and Rays officials gathered for the annual Clutch Hitters banquet honoring the season’s award-winners.

After giving the standard thanks for being named the Rays' minor league player of the year, the 23-year-old first baseman raised a few eyebrows—and tightened a few stomachs—by saying there was a serious issue in the minor leagues that needed to be addressed.

Lowe was just having fun. He said that even though second baseman Brandon Lowe—no relation—made it to Tampa Bay first, his preferred pronunciation of Lowe (it rhymes with "now") was not going to become popular.

That's because Lowe is on his way to the big leagues—and so is his younger brother Josh, the Rays' first-round pick in 2016.

For the Nate and Josh, Lowe is pronounced as the more traditional "low."

Nate Lowe turned in a good-but-not-great season at Class A in 2017 before completely breaking out in 2018. He climbed from high Class A Charlotte to Triple-A Durham and hit .330/.416/.568 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs in 130 games.

Lowe, a 13th-round pick in 2016 out of Mississippi State, credited the improvement to doing more in the offseason. He got his body in shape earlier and took part in workouts in the Orlando area coordinated by his agent.

But he also changed his hitting approach, which included going against some of the popular thinking.

"I hit the ball this hard last year, it was just not out front," he said. "For a lot of these guys, launch angle is their hype. We call it vertical angle. If you catch the ball out front and go hit the ball where it needs to be hit, you don’t have to worry about how high you hit it.

"So, honestly, it was getting as simple as possible and trying to hit the ball hard. That kind of turned things around.’’

While Nate has mashed his way to the cusp of the majors, his younger brother Josh continues to develop as a center fielder. The pair opened the season as teammates in the Florida State League.

Nate figures to make sure everyone knows how to say their name.

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Jesus Luzardo strikes out six, Kyle Wright takes on a loaded Yankees lineup and a quiet spring so far for Eloy Jimenez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

COOL RAYS

• The Rays' field staff is headed for major change for a second straight winter, this time because two major league coaches got hired as managers elsewhere. The Twins hired field coordinator Rocco Baldelli and the Blue Jays hired bench coach Charlie Montoyo as their new major league managers.

• Lefthander Vidal Nuno is slated to be part of the MLB team playing exhibitions in Japan from Nov. 8-15. Rays visiting clubhouse manager Guy Gallagher will be on the tour staff.

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