MIAMI -- A consummate professional, Mike Lowell compiled a long list of accomplishments in his 13-year big league career with the Yankees, Marlins and Red Sox. He was a four-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion, and he won a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award.Now an
MIAMI -- A consummate professional, Mike Lowell compiled a long list of accomplishments in his 13-year big league career with the Yankees, Marlins and Red Sox. He was a four-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion, and he won a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award.
Now an analyst for MLB Network, Lowell credits Gary Denbo, the Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting, for putting him on the path to success.
The Yankees selected Lowell from Florida International University in the 20th round of the 1995 MLB Draft. Denbo was the Yankees' Minor League hitting coordinator at the time.
In 1996, Lowell's second year in pro ball, he hit eight home runs at Class A Greensboro. The following season, he progressed to Double-A and Triple-A, connecting on 15 home runs at each level.
"I remember, I went to the instructional league and I found on my chair in my locker the first day," Lowell said, referring to 1996. "There was a sheet with strengths and weaknesses. It was very detailed -- to the day, what we're doing in the morning, what we're doing in the afternoon. To basically get to a point where we wanted to be able to handle all pitches in all situations during the season."
At a time when filmwork was just being introduced, Denbo recorded all of Lowell's hitting sessions. Together, they'd break down his swing, and they came up with a hitting plan.
"It was pretty simple in the sense of my strength was balls middle-in, my weakness was balls away," Lowell said. "So he devised a plan for literally, maybe the first four days. All we worked on were pitches away, the direction of the hands on how you would handle pitches away. We didn't even do anything inside.
"Now, there was a progression over two weeks, but it was the session that we'd do. We'd film the tee work, go back to the video room, we'd look at what we did. We'd brainstorm about triggers and thought processes."
The improvement was obvious in 1997.
"I was 22 and still maturing," Lowell said. "But after that offseason of working with him, my home runs went from eight to 30.
"I didn't feel like I was a different hitter, mentally. I still had the pitches I was looking for, but I was a different hitter in my path. I attribute that to definitely the mindset that we put in."
Lowell broke in with the Yankees in 1998, seeing limited action in the organization's World Series championship season. He was dealt to the Marlins in '99, and was an All-Star in 2003, when Miami won the World Series.
Dealt to the Red Sox following the 2005 season, Lowell won the Most Valuable Player Award during Boston's '07 World Series victory.
A Miami resident, Lowell notes it will take some time for the Marlins to get on track under the new ownership and with Denbo overseeing player development.
"It's not so much drafting [players]," Lowell said. "That's part one. But part two, do you have the right personnel to develop them? These are 18-to-21-year-old kids, they are very impressionable. You can have a huge impact on the path they take.
"I think Gary had a major impact with me. I think he had a major impact with Derek [Jeter]. I think he's a guy who can have a major impact on a lot of young guys in the Marlins' organization."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.