Lowe shows off power with mammoth homer
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Being able to acquire Yandy Díaz was a big reason as to why the Rays decided to trade Jake Bauers to the Indians in the offseason. But another factor was the fact that the organization was high on what Nate Lowe could bring to the table.
On Wednesday, Lowe showed off the power that the Rays have been raving about over the last year.
In the third inning of Tampa Bay’s 5-4 win over Boston on Wednesday, Lowe jumped on a cutter from former Rays and current Red Sox pitcher Erasmo Ramirez and launched it onto the top of the building beyond the right-center-field boardwalk at Charlotte Sports Park. There’s no official way to calculate just how far the home run traveled, but the Rays’ public relations staff estimated that the ball went about 450 feet in the air.
“Not up there,” Lowe laughed, when asked if he had hit one up there as a member of the Stone Crabs. “I put a couple down the line. A couple to left-center, but right-center was one I was looking to check off for a while.”
Lowe picked a good time to check that box off, as he’s looking to show the Rays that he’s close to being ready for the big leagues. It’s unlikely that Lowe will be with the Major League team come Opening Day, but the belief is that Tampa Bay's No. 13 prospect will make it to the big league level at some point in 2019.
Diaz, Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe are among the other options at first base, but the team won’t commit to just having one set starter. With that comes an opportunity for Lowe this spring, but he’s just looking to make a good impression.
“Right now, as a personal goal in Spring Training is to make sure I’m ready for whatever Opening Day I’m a part of,” Lowe said. “The ultimate goal is not to hit homers or hit .500 in Spring Training or do ridiculous stuff, but it’s to make sure that I’m ready to go.”
Daniel Robertson, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning off Ramirez, has been impressed with what he’s seen from Lowe so far in camp.
“I told him mine went further,” Robertson joked. “That guy mashes the ball. He has a good chance of helping us this year.”
The mammoth home run for Lowe comes on the heels of a two-run double Tuesday against Baltimore in Sarasota. Over the past couple of weeks, Lowe has impressed with his batting-practice rounds, and it’s now translating into the games.
A couple more swings like that and the Rays will have a decision to make sooner than they expected.
“He might be ready now,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I’m not one to hold anybody back. I think he needs to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s definitely making a good impression.”
Choi was scheduled to start at first base Wednesday, but he was a late scratch due to a slight tweak in his back. He’s expected to be sidelined for a couple of days, but it’s just precautionary.
“Nothing too bad,” Cash said. “His back was a little tight after the game. I think he would be playing if it was the regular season.”
As for Matt Duffy, he’s scheduled to return to action Thursday against the Twins. He has missed the last couple of games with a left hamstring issue.
Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell will make his first Grapefruit League start Thursday against the Twins at 6:35 p.m. ET in Port Charlotte, Fla. The left-hander won 21 games and led the AL with a 1.89 ERA last season.
Diaz, Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows, Avisail Garcia, Lowe, Duffy, Willy Adames, Emilio Bonifacio and Michael Perez are all scheduled to start Thursday.
Meadows will start at right field for the first time this spring. He was dealing with a minor issue with his throwing shoulder.