Should We Keep Tabs on Jed Lowrie?

A supplemental first-round pick out of Stanford in 2005, Jed Lowrie had a disappointing season in the Hi-A Carolina League in 2006 and fell off the radar for most people. Even after a 2007 season in which he hit for average and power split between Double-A and Triple-A, he was not considered an impact player. Baseball America rated him as only the 73rd-best prospect coming into 2008.

But injuries at the major league level gave Lowrie a shot at regular playing time in Boston last year and he held his own in his first exposure to the big leagues. In late August, Lowrie had a .296/.366/.469 line after his first 52 games and 188 plate appearances. But a September swoon, perhaps as teams adjusted their scouting reports, dragged down his final numbers.

Lowrie was a shortstop in college and the minors but found himself switching between there and third base for the Red Sox in 2008, depending upon who was hurt at that time. As a shortstop, he batted .272/.360/.424 in 187 PA while as a 3B he posted a .239/.318/.359 line in 108 PA.

Now, those numbers are too small of a sample to draw any big conclusions from, but it should not surprise anyone that he hit better while playing at his natural position.

The Red Sox have Julio Lugo as their incumbent shortstop and the veteran is owed $18 million over the next two years. However, Lowrie in his brief stint showed strong signs of handling the position defensively, with a UZR/150 of 21 compared to -1.6 for Lugo.

Lowrie showed excellent patience at the plate and drew walks at an 11.9 percent rate. But his strikeout rate was unacceptable at 26.2 percent. Lowrie smacked a lot of line drives, which helped him to a .342 BABIP. He also piled up the line drives and high BABIP in the minors. It’s a nice package if Lowrie can get his strikeout rate down to 20 percent or lower.

Lowrie’s fantasy value is dependent on Boston trading Lugo elsewhere. He showed enough in 2008 for the club to consider the possibility but probably not enough to make it a priority.

Unless the Red Sox trade Lugo prior to the start of the season, Lowrie is not worth drafting in mixed leagues and is at best a late-round lottery ticket in AL-only leagues. But there is enough talent there that he merits following and he is someone who could provide solid production at a weak position if given a shot at the full-time job.

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11 Responses to “Should We Keep Tabs on Jed Lowrie?”

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  1. Not even a Sox homer says:

    That is an extremely poor synopsis of Lowrie’s prospect lifespan in the first paragraph. First off, his 2006 season was marred by a bad ankle injury, which most educated observers took into consideration and as such didn’t write him off yet. And second, being ranked as the 73rd prospect on BA’s list in fact DOES infer that he should make an impact at the MLB level — not to mention that he was 57th on BP’s list (and rated a 4 star prospect) and was rated an “A-” prospect by John Sickels.

    Since Neftali Feliz was the 93rd prospect on BA’s list last year, does that mean that nobody expects him to be an impact performer in the big leagues?

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  2. Brian Joura says:

    Hi Homer – thanks for reading and commenting.

    There are 30 teams and 25 players on each team. If the #73 prospect is an impact one – that means there are at least 10 percent impact prospects coming into MLB every year. Forgive me if I don’t buy that line of reasoning.

    Sickels was more bullish on Lowrie than just about everyone else.

    Neftali Feliz was ranked 93rd after splitting time between two short-season leagues. That’s nowhere near comparable to being ranked 73rd after performing well at Triple-A.

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  3. Not even a Sox homer says:

    A player does not have to be a top 10 prospect or have a ROY-type campaign in their first year to be an “impact player”, especially at a scarce position like SS. Unless of course your scope of “impact players” only includes players like Griffey, Hanley, A-Rod, etc.

    I don’t care if he was 23 years old at the time, a guy putting up a wOBA of .396 and .363 at AA/AAA as a SS can certainly be an impact player in real life and in fantasy baseball.

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  4. Brian Joura says:

    I agree completely with your second graph. Which is why BA’s ranking of 73 was ridiculous. And that low ranking contributed him to not being viewed as a top prospect by the mainstream.

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  5. Matt says:

    Jed Lowrie is what he is. A valuable utility man, for now.

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  6. Jim says:

    The realm of players who come to make an impact expands far beyond the top 100 rated prospects. I don’t see why being rated 73 should be preceded by “only”.

    Just a quick point….when Baseball America does projected 2012 lineups on the top 10 prospects from each team pages, they include top 10 prospects from each team who come nowhere close to the top 100, and that just goes to show that plenty of players even outside the top 100 can make a big impact.

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  7. Brian Joura says:

    Those prospects on the 2012 teams are hardly givens to even make the majors, much less be impact players. For instance, the Mets 2012 lineup shows Francisco Pena as their catcher. All this means is that Brian Schneider is unlikely to be on the team in four years and that Pena is the best catching prospect in the system. It has absolutely nothing to do with Pena being an impact prospect. Yes, he is very young for his league, but in his second season in the SAL, Pena put up a .264/.308/.380 line, which is hardly inspiring.

    I had no idea we would end up debating the meaning of the word “impact”. I’ve always thought of an impact prospect as being someone who would turn into an All-Star caliber player.

    Since I mentioned him earlier, let’s take Brian Schneider. He’s going to end his career with over 1,000 games played in the majors, which is no small feat. But at the same time, at no point would I have considered him to be an impact prospect.

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  8. Not even a Sox homer says:

    Bringing up Brian Schneider helps prove the point that players with offensive potential such as Lowrie’s at a thin position actually DO stand to be impact players in the majors. Schneider was never considered an impact prospect because he stunk offensively at AA/AAA, and has never done anything interesting offensively in the majors, yet he is entering his 10th year in the majors since there are so few players that can handle that role defensively. Players like Cesar Izturis and Adam Everett get to play shortstop in the big leagues for many years despite being horrible offensively since there are so few players that can go out there and man the position. Granted, they may provide additional value based on their great defense, but that’s pretty useless in fantasy baseball.

    Given that it’s the second thinnest position in the majors behind catcher, there are very few SS prospects that actually profile to stay at the position that put up offensive numbers like Lowrie did at AA/AAA. Jhonny Peralta and Michael Young never made a BA top 100 prospect list, but few would argue that either of them haven’t been an “impact player”, especially for fantasy baseball purposes. If Lowrie can provide the same overall offensive value as Peralta or Young, I’d say he’d have to be considered an impact player at his position. Considering that the Marcel and Bill James wOBA forecasts on this site for these three players in 2009 are all extremely similar, it seems that Lowrie is capable of providing the same overall offensive impact.

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  9. Brian Joura says:

    My position is that Jed Lowrie is good, should be starting over Lugo at SS for Boston, is worthwhile fantasy player if and when he gets the job and should have been rated higher than 73 by BA.

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  10. Matt says:

    The Sox aren’t convinced he can last at SS longer term. He has improved, but it has always been a worry he might have to shift to 3B, where his bat will not be as valuable. Sure, his UZR ratings were pretty good, but a short sample. Let’s see what he brings this year.

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  11. Jedward says:

    Hey check out there is some great forums and articles or just type jedward into google its on the first page. Pretty sweet website.

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