Rays Like What They Got In Lowe

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Rays felt there was a lot to like about Georgia prep third baseman Josh Lowe in making his the 13th overall pick in the draft.

Enough that, eschewing more advanced options to fill a gap in their system, they will be willing to wait for him to be able to show it.

“I really like his athleticism. Really like the power. The profile is one that can have success,’’ Rays general manager Matt Silverman said.

“You really have to have patience with high school players, it’s a long development path. But we think he has the ingredients, the desire and the ambition to go out there and compete and fulfill his major league dreams.”

Rob Metzler, running his first draft since taking over as director of amateur scouting, offered a similar take.

“He has really good physical attributes,’’ Metzler said. “He’s a big, strong athlete. Good foot speed and power. We think he has good ingredients to progress through our system. A long road, but we think he’s a good bet to make that journey.’’

Lowe, with the lefty power the Rays seek, was Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .391 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. He also earned six saves with 33 strikeouts in 22 innings, but the Rays view him, initially anyway, as a position player.

“We’re going to give third base a try and go from there,” Metzler said. “He has really good athletic ability and we think he has a good chance to be a defensive asset at some position on the field.’’

Lowe said he liked that plan.

“I’m excited,’’ he said. “If the organization thinks I can help them best as a third baseman and help them win, that’s what I’m looking forward to do. And I know I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to be the best third baseman in the entire organization and the league eventually, and if that’s where they think I can help them win and bring championships to them, then I’ll do that. But if they need me to go to another position, I’ll be just as happy to do that as well.”

Lowe, 18, worked out for the Rays on Tuesday at the Trop, and made a good impression, hitting five balls off the batter’s eye beyond the centerfield fence and another on to the walkway beyond the right-field seats.

Similarly, he said he liked what he saw of the stadium and the Rays personnel he met. And he knew enough when asked what player he most modeled his game after. “I’m going to go ahead and say Evan Longoria,’’ Lowe said. “He’s one of the best third baseman in the league and he is definitely swinging the hot bat right now. He’s definitely a great player.’’

Lowe comes from athletic stock. His father, Dave, was a fifth-round pick of the Mariners in 1986 but opted for the Naval Academy, where he played football and baseball before launching a career as a pilot. Older brother Nathaniel was Florida JUCO player of the year at St. John’s River State College and is now a junior at Mississippi State, and a draft prospect himself.

Metzler, who said he spent a lot of time with Lowe this spring, said the Rays like the total package.

“We feel strongly that he has good mental ingredients along with his physical ingredients,’’ he said.


• University of Nebraska outfielder Ryan Boldt was the Rays’ second-round pick, 53rd overall. Boldt hit .344 with as many walks as strikeouts and also a two-time Academic All-American who had a 3.70 GPA as a nutrition science major.

• Only 12 players are still with the team that drafted them in 2006 (active in the majors or on the DL) and the Rays have three of them: 3B Evan Longoria, first round; RHP Alex Cobb, fourth; and OF Desmond Jennings, 10th.

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