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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.