No. 4 prospect Lowe gets 1st hit in debut

Arozarena to paternity list; Choi, Wisler reinstated; Archer to come out of 'pen vs. Detroit

September 9th, 2021

BOSTON -- The Rays took a look at another one of their top prospects Wednesday night, as outfielder Josh Lowe made his Major League debut in a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park hours after being officially called up from Triple-A Durham.

Lowe, the Rays’ No. 4 prospect and No. 76 overall on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, is temporarily taking the place of outfielder Randy Arozarena, who will miss at least two games after being placed on the paternity list. He walked in his first big league plate appearance and immediately stole second base, reached on an infield single in his only at-bat of the night and played seven innings in right field in his debut.

“Happy for him. Happy for the hit. Happy for the stolen base,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We were all kind of marveling at the at-bat in the first to get the walk. You know the nerves are running high, but to have enough wherewithal and being in a good enough headspace to lay off some what appeared to be close pitches, that was pretty impressive. And then as far as the speed, we know he can move. He gets there pretty effortlessly.”

The Rays have felt the 23-year-old Lowe was ready for the Majors for quite some time this year, and it shows in the numbers he’s put up for Durham. The athletic outfielder, Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in the 2016 Draft, was hitting .282/.369/.540 with 21 homers, 24 doubles and 24 stolen bases while playing all three outfield positions in 98 games at the Triple-A level this season.

“He’s got an incredible disposition to go about every day in a similar fashion. He’s going to work as hard as he can,” director of Minor League operations Jeff McLerran said on Aug. 25. “He can affect a game in so many ways, whether it’s in the field, on the bases, so you know that even if one thing happens to be struggling, he can help you out a different way. … I think he’s going to be a guy that’s going to make an impact for our big league team in the near future.”

That proved to be prescient, as Lowe (pronounced “low”) was the latest in a long line of talented young players to come out of the Rays’ farm system this season. Already this year, Tampa Bay -- which has the best record in the American League and a nine-game lead in the AL East -- has taken a glimpse at the organization’s bright future by calling upon prospects like Arozarena, Wander Franco, Shane McClanahan, Luis Patiño, Taylor Walls, Josh Fleming and Vidal Bruján.

Next came Lowe, who waited patiently in Triple-A as his teammates were summoned to the big leagues.

“Pretty surreal. It's an awesome moment. Just taking it all in,” Lowe said before the game. “That's pretty much the advice I've gotten from everybody -- family and friends, teammates, coaches -- just to take in the moment, enjoy it all. Couldn't make it in a more historic park, here in Fenway, so I'm super excited and ready to get this thing rolling.”

His first stint in the Majors could be brief, however, as the Rays shouldn’t need an extra outfielder for long. Arozarena is with his wife and newborn daughter Alaia on paternity leave, which lasts at least one day but no more than three, and Brett Phillips (sprained right ankle) will be eligible to come off the 10-day injured list prior to Friday’s series opener in Detroit.

But their situation temporarily created an opening for Lowe, who was already on the club’s 40-man roster. Lowe -- the brother of current Rangers/former Rays first baseman Nate Lowe, but unrelated to Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (rhymes with “wow”) -- wore No. 53 in his first big league callup.

Lowe said he learned of his promotion after Durham’s game on Tuesday night. He was eating dinner, talking on the phone with his girlfriend, when Triple-A manager Brady Williams FaceTimed him from a number he didn’t recognize.

“I was like, 'I probably should answer this call real quick.' Answered it, and it was Brady sitting there. I was like, 'Oh, there's Brady,’” Lowe said. “And sure enough, he's like, 'Hey man, what are you doing?' I'm like, 'Eating dinner. What are you doing?' He's like, 'Just telling you you're going to the big leagues, man.' So, it’s pretty cool.”

Lowe immediately called his mother, then his father, then texted his brother -- who was a little busy playing for Texas at the time the news came down. Lowe said his mom was able to make it to Fenway Park on Wednesday in time for his unexpected but entirely welcome debut.

“I had no clue,” Lowe said. “Pretty much was just going about my business each and every day, controlling what I can control and going out and helping the team win there in Durham, playing ballgames. So that was pretty much my mindset.”

Archer set for relief outing
The Rays announced their rotation for this weekend’s series in Detroit, and Chris Archer wasn’t part of it. Tampa Bay will start Michael Wacha on Friday, Luis Patiño on Saturday and either an opener or Ryan Yarbrough in Sunday’s series finale.

Archer, meanwhile, is scheduled to come out of the bullpen on Friday or Saturday, most likely pitching in the series opener. Cash said the Rays are in position to “maybe pull back a little bit” on Archer’s workload after he went five innings in his last start, his longest outing since August 2019. So he is slated to work in relief this weekend before bouncing back into the rotation during the Rays’ final homestand of the season.

Archer said he understood the plan, which was communicated to him after his last start, and wouldn’t be surprised if he takes on a similar role next month.

“I've been saying this since spring: Whatever it takes to help this team,” Archer said. “That's why I'm open-minded to it, because we have a special team. In October, you're asked to do whatever it takes, and this might be what it takes. So I'm glad that I'll at least have one go-around under my belt.”