July 10, 2021: Rays manager Kevin Cash praised Brandon Lowe for working hard to put his early season slump behind him, noted that Lowe wasn’t “totally out of it” yet and predicted there was a hot streak on the horizon from the 2019 All-Star.
It seems Lowe has officially hit that hot streak. The Rays are on one, too.
Lowe homered in each of his first two at-bats, Tampa Bay’s pitching staff kept Toronto’s tough lineup at bay again and the Rays won their sixth straight game, 5-2, at Tropicana Field.
“He knows he's a good player. We certainly know he's a good player, and that he can help us,” Cash said of Lowe after his fourth career multihomer game. “We've seen in the past where he gets hot and balls are hitting off the wall [and] over the wall at a pretty, pretty good rate, and that's what we're seeing right now.”
Lowe has gone deep four times in his last four games, six times in his last eight and eight times (with 16 RBIs) in his last 15. His .208 average still isn’t what he wants to see when he looks up at the scoreboard, but he has clearly found his power stroke: Of his 12 hits over the last 15 games, 11 have been for extra bases -- eight homers and three doubles.
The Rays’ most valuable player last season, Lowe spent much of the first half tinkering with his mechanics at the plate and searching for a mindset that has allowed him to focus on each at-bat, not all the frustrating ones that came before. Lowe said what he has done lately has been a product of those physical and mental adjustments.
“It's very easy to get frustrated, and sometimes it's fair to be frustrated. And I think he's had those moments at certain parts of the season,” Cash said. “But give him a lot of credit for staying at it and keeping his head above water and staying confident to allow himself to do this.”
Batting first against right-hander Ross Stripling, Lowe swung at the first pitch he saw and crushed it a Statcast-projected 410 feet to right field for his second career leadoff homer. He came up again in the third with Kevin Kiermaier on second base, worked a full count, then unloaded on a hanging slider for his 20th home run of the season.
Lowe recently referred to his inconsistent offensive campaign as “probably the worst year of my life." But all of a sudden, he’s approaching the All-Star break with a lot to feel good about. Start with the 20 home runs -- most on the team, a personal best and a rarity in franchise history. (Only four other players -- Carlos Peña, José Canseco, Logan Morrison and Greg Vaughn -- have hit 20 or more homers for Tampa Bay before the All-Star break.) He has driven in 47 runs, second most on the team, and has been healthy enough to play 81 games -- one off his career-high mark. And Lowe’s .775 OPS ranks fifth on the team behind Austin Meadows, Mike Zunino, Ji-Man Choi and Joey Wendle.
“I feel normal,” he said. “I don't think that I'm on a tear or as hot as I can be, but I definitely feel better at the plate.”
“He can carry a team when he's really hot,” added left-hander Ryan Yarbrough. “So you get really excited about that when he starts hitting the ball like he has been, especially all the homers. You're just really happy for him, because you understand all the work he's been putting in behind the scenes.”
Well, maybe not.
“No. Four days off [is] four days off,” Lowe said, smiling. “It'll do the body some good.” (A Berry - MLB.com - July 10, 2021)
|Birth City:||Newport News, VA|
|Draft:||Rays #3 - 2015 - Out of Univ. of Maryland|
Lowe is pronounced "LAU," like Charlie Lau -- or, La-OW.
Lowe was a four-year letterman in baseball and was first team all-state (Virginia) at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk, Virginia.
In 2015, the Rays drafted Brandon (see Transactions below).
His older sister Breanne is a coach for the Rhodes College field hockey team in Memphis. Their father Tom played baseball at SUNY-Cortland.
Lowe's favorite sports hero is Robinson Cano.
2017: Lowe was invited to play in the AFL Fall Stars Game, but was unable to attend due to a shin injury.
In 2018, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Brandon as the 16th-best prospect in the Rays' organization. He moved up to #8 in the winter before 2019 spring training.
2019 season:Through the first three months of the season, it looked like Lowe was going to run away with the AL Rookie of the Year Award, but after missing most of the last three months with a pair of injuries, he opened the door for the rest of the competition to make its case. Alvarez is the favorite to win the award, but Lowe can still make a case despite playing just six games in the second half of the season.Lowe finished with 17 home runs while hitting in the middle of a lineup that desperately needed his contributions. The first-time All-Star finished with a 2.6 FanGraphs WAR, which is the lowest of the three finalists, but Lowe is the only player who contributed both defensively and offensively. Lowe’s chances at the award took a hit due to injuries, but he still remains a quality choice to win it. ( Juan Toribio - MLB.com - Nov. 10, 2019)
Nov. 11, 2019: Lowe finished third in AL Rookie of Year voting.
Brandon and Austin Meadows were sitting inside the Rays' clubhouse on February 23, 2020, when Lowe got a call from his wife, Madison, that everyone involved will not forget.
“Madison called me and said, ‘Hey, I think our neighborhood is on fire,'” Lowe recalled. “I looked at Austin and said, ‘Dude, our neighborhood is on fire?’ and I think right after that, he called [his wife] Alexis and everything kind of sped up from there.”
The shared 2020 Spring Training home of Lowe and Meadows was in the danger zone of a nearly 220-acre brush fire that caused serious damage in the Rotonda West area and Charlotte County. Law enforcement is still trying to gauge just how much destruction was caused by the brush fire.
“Driving down there, it was just a massive cloud,” Meadows said. “I think it was 220 acres. Just taking everything out in its path. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was unbelievable.”
Meadows was scheduled to lead off and play left field for the Rays, but he was scratched due to a personal matter. Since the news was so close to game time, Meadows and Lowe didn’t have much of an opportunity to tell anyone that they needed to go attend to a family emergency. They weren’t thinking about baseball. They were only thinking about finding their loved ones and their two pets.
Both Lowe and Meadows took off and directed their wives to meet up in a location that was safe from the fire. The ride to the house felt longer than usual, Lowe said, and as they got closer, they realized that the street leading up to the house was closed off. Upon getting the call, Lowe said he sprinted toward his truck.
“I felt like I was in NASCAR,” Lowe said. “Last thing we heard was we can’t get out, there’s smoke everywhere and I was terrified what might actually happen.”
Lowe said he has experienced an earthquake, a tornado and a hurricane, but nothing scared him quite like the speed of the brush fire. Brandon and Madison were able to stay with Hunter Renfroe, while Austin and Alexis spent the night with Oliver Drake and his family.
Both Lowe and Meadows were back in the lineup the next day in Sarasota against the Orioles, and they don’t expect to miss any time. They’re still unsure about their living arrangement for the rest of 2020 spring; they haven't returned to their homes yet, though they've been cleared for entry.
“Thankfully, we had firefighters from five or six different counties come in and they did an unreal job keeping it contained,” Lowe said. “Thankfully, everyone was safe.” (Toribio - mlb.com - 2/24/2020)
2020 Season: During the regular season, Lowe was the Rays’ most valuable player. He hit .269/.362/.554 and easily led the team in home runs (14), RBIs (37) and WAR (2.4). Then came the postseason, and Lowe suddenly looked nothing like himself. Although he did homer three times during Tampa Bay’s two victories in the World Series, he went just 9-for-76 with 28 strikeouts overall in the playoffs. (Adam Berry - Feb. 25, 2021)
June 2015: The Rays chose Brandon in the third round, out of the University of Maryland. And he signed for $697,500, via scout Lou Wieben.
- March 20, 2019: Brandon signed a six-year, $24 million deal. He became just the fourth player in Rays history to sign a long-term extension with less than a year in the Majors.
Lowe's best tool is his ability to post a good average. He gets a 50 for his hitting tool, and a 45 for his fringe-average raw power.
In 2017, Brandon increased his power after shifting his hands away from his body during his setup. His hands work well now, allowing him to handle quality fastballs, and he puts together competitive at-bats against same-side pitchers.
He sets his hands low at the plate before unleashing a quick, powerful lefthanded swing from a smaller, compact frame with good leverage. Lowe has the plate discipline and feel for the barrel to be an average hitter and the plus raw power to hit the ball out from pole to pole and deliver average home run totals. (Spring, 2019)
Brandon has an advanced approach from the left side of the plate. He can flat-out hit. He has above-average bat speed. He attacks pitches in the strike zone with his short, compact lefthanded stroke.
Lowe has tremendous strike-zone discipline. He gets on base a lot.
"He has great at-bats on a daily basis. He sees the ball, he's short and quick to it, makes contact, hits for power and takes his walks," Rays senior VP, Chaim Bloom on Brandon.
2017 season: Lowe watched his stock rise this year as he was one of the best hitters in the Florida State League for the bulk of the season. The Rays' No. 13 prospect hit .311 over 90 games with Class A Advanced Charlotte. After a late-season promotion to Double-A Montgomery, however, Lowe watched his average dip as he hit just .253 over 24 games.
- August 15, 2018: Brandon had been hitless in his first 19 Major League at-bats, giving him the second-longest hitless streak to begin a career in team history. Of course, there really wasn't any shame there since Stephen Vogt set the standard, going 0-for-25 in 2012, and Vogt went on to become an All-Star.
Lowe killed the suspense with a well-placed blooper to left in the second inning, giving him his first Major League hit and RBI while putting the Rays up, 1-0.
"Finally I can move past that huge obstacle of that first hit," Lowe said. "I can finally relax and settle in. … It was starting to get pretty frustrating, I can't lie. Baseball's a very frustrating game. But you have to stay with the plan that's really gotten you to where you are."
Lowe struck again in the fifth with Ji-Man Choi on second base. This time Lowe singled to right, driving home his second run and pushing the Rays' lead to 6-1. (Chastain - mlb.com)
May 25, 2019: Lowe said that he has recently worked on attacking breaking balls and off-speed pitches. That became necessary after he witnessed a 10 percent drop in opposing fastballs this month compared to April, a progression you might see after a young player begins to prove himself. That game plan certainly makes sense, given that Lowe entered the game with a .629 slugging percentage on fastballs compared to .444 against breaking balls and .484 against off-speed.
“If you’re not going to challenge a guy with a fastball, you want to work around him with off-speed, you can take it as a compliment,” Lowe said. “But they also know that’s what has gotten me out. We’re really working on everything to kind of figure out what to do next.”
His two extra-base hits against changeups certainly were a step in the right direction.
Additionally, both of his extra-base hits were classified as barrels, Statcast’s ideal combination of launch angle and exit velocity. The solid knocks lifted him into a second-place tie with Yandy Diaz for the most barrels on the club (16).
Aug. 16, 2020: Lowe homered in four consecutive games, becoming the first Ray to homer in four straight since Evan Longoria did it on June 2-5, 2016 against the Twins.
Aug. 17, 2020: Lowe hit four home runs -- in four straight games -- becoming the first Rays player with a home run streak that long since Evan Longoria in 2016.
- Dec 9, 2020: Lowe, who led the Rays in nearly every offensive category last season, was named to the All-MLB Second Team, further proving that he’s one of the best second basemen in the Majors. Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu was voted to the First Team ahead of Lowe.
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Brandon's career Major League stats were: .262 batting average, 37 home runs with 113 RBI in 618 at-bats.
Brandon makes all the routine plays at second base. He is an average fielder on the big league level. And his arm is also fringe-average—both grading 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Lowe needs to improve his footwork to increase his range at second base.
Lowe can make the throw from short right field on shifts.
Brandon does a good job on the pivot for a double play.
- In 2018, Brandon added some versatility, starting games at second base and both outfield corners.
Lowe improved his defensive play at second base, but his range and arm strength grade as fringe-average. His arm plays up thanks to his accuracy and strong internal clock.
- In 2019 with the Rays, Lowe played mostly second base. But he also played first base, left field, and right field.
- Brandon has average speed (a 50 grade). He runs the bases intelligently.
2013: Lowe tore his ACL in his knee in a gruesome injury at the start of his freshman season, and he was redshirted.
May 2015: Brandon broke his right fibula during the college super-regional.
July 2-Sept 22, 2019: Lowe was on the IL with a right shin bone bruise.
Aug 3, 2019: Lowe fielded ground balls and did some hitting, and the infielder said it “went well,” but there’s still no timetable for his return. Lowe has been sidelined, and it has taken longer to heal than originally expected.
Lowe received a cortisone shot before the team traveled to Toronto, and the infielder said that it “helped a ton,” but he’s still not where he wants to be when it comes to fielding ground balls and playing close to 100 percent.
August 21, 2019: The Rays announced that Lowe would miss the rest of the year— postseason included. While rehabbing from the right shin injury, he strained his left quad. (Editor's note: Ouch.)