Saint Petersburg, FL — The average age on the Tampa Bay Rays active roster is 26 years, eight months. Making his Major-League debut at 24 years-of-age, Brandon Lowe fits in nicely with the list of other prospects given a chance to prove themselves this year.
On Sunday, in front of 14,379 fans at Tropicana Field — which is about seven thousand more than the average of 7,370 he’s used to at Triple-A Durham — Lowe went 0-for-4, while playing left field and second base in Tampa Bay’s 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
After trading away several veteran players at the trade deadline, the Rays are left with only 17 players on the active roster with over two years of service time. Only two of which are pitchers — Sergio Romo (10.055) and Blake Snell (2.030).
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Prior to being called up on Saturday, the Newport News, Va. native had 31 doubles, 22 home runs, and 76 RBI over 100 games between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. Among all minor-leaguers, Lowe ranked seventh in doubles and fifth in XBH (54).
Listed as the No. 9 prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline, Lowe set franchise records in slugging percentage (.524) and OPS (.927) for High-A Charlotte last season. Additionally, he was named Florida State League MVP despite being promoted to Double-A in August. His success in the traditionally pitcher-friendly FSL drew the eyes of many.
With second baseman Daniel Robertson (left thumb sprain) on the 10-day DL, it’s understandable for Tampa Bay to call upon their third-round pick from 2015 — he’s listed as the eighth-best second-base prospect in baseball. Getting the start in left field in his first big-league game, before moving to second base in the eighth inning, Lowe’s rapid growth combined with Robertson’s injury awarded him a call-up quicker than many anticipated.
His versatility is something that will help this club over the final two months of the season — even if it takes him out of his comfort zone.
“It was a little different,” Lowe said of playing the outfield for the first time at Tropicana Field.” When I’ve been up here it hasn’t been as an outfielder so that was the first real experience.”
The team announced on Sunday that Robertson will require surgery and likely miss the remainder of the 2018 season. Lowe welcomes the opportunity to play at the big-league level, regardless of how long he’s here.
“It’s indescribable,” he said playing in the big leagues. “It’s been a dream since I was a little kid, and to have so much of my family here to witness it is just amazing.”
After going 3-for-3 with a home run, Joey Wendle, who started at second base in place of Robertson, is now second on the club with 33 RBI this season.
Manager Kevin Cash, with the bases loaded and Wendle due-up in the seventh inning, made a curious decision to pull his left-handed clean-up hitter, opting to use right-hander C.J. Cron. The White Sox made a pitching change, calling on righty Jeanmar Gomez — Cron struck out. Ultimately, the Rays would tie the game on Ji-Man Choi‘s two-run single. After the game, Cash spoke of his decision.
“I felt at that point that CJ was the better match-up,” Cash told us after the game. “Knowing that they were gonna bring in the righty. It allowed us to, most likely, get Ji-Man [Choi] to face Gomez. They’re not easy decisions, they’re tough decisions. Especially when Joey did so much in that game offensively for us
Mallex Smith, while going 4-for-5 on the afternoon, also recorded his 23rd stolen base — fourth-best in the American League. In relief of Hunter Wood, who went 1.2 innings and allowed one run, left-hander Ryan Yarbrough struggled over 5.1 innings, allowing five runs on six hits, walking three, and allowing two home runs while throwing 94 pitches.
The Rays have an off-day on Monday before hosting the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm and you can watch the action on Fox Sports Sun.
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