FSL notes: Lowe stands apart for Stone Crabs

Rays' infield prospect steadily putting together breakout season

Brandon Lowe holds a .333 batting average and a .416 on-base percentage in 75 games with Charlotte. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MiLB.com | July 18, 2017 10:00 AM ET

The confusion is understandable to a point. The Rays do have a lot of prospects with the same last name.

Charlotte Stone Crabs second baseman Brandon Lowe, who leads the Florida State League in many offensive categories, isn't the Rays' first-round Draft choice from a year ago.

That's Josh Lowe, who plays third base for Bowling Green in the Midwest League.

He also isn't Nathaniel Lowe, the brother of Josh. The fellow Rays draftee is now Brandon's teammate in Charlotte after starting the season with Josh at Bowling Green.

"It's gotten a little weird at times," Brandon said. "I was getting 'How's your brother doing?' and stuff like that. I just had fun with it. I guess you can't blame people for mixing us up."

But the ones who were confused obviously hadn't been paying close attention to PA announcements or radio broadcasts since Nathaniel joined Charlotte in June.

Brandon's last name is pronounced like "Lau" while the Lowe brothers go by the more common pronunciation of "Low."

"Teammates ask us what's up with that," Brandon said. "I guess I don't really know. My family has just always said it that way."

The 23-year-old's season with Charlotte deserves to stand apart, despite the identity confusion.

The left-handed hitter won't win the traditional hitting crown in the Florida State League, but he leads the sabermetrics version. Brandon, a third-round pick in the 2015 Draft out of the University of Maryland, has a slash line of .333/.416/.576 -- the league's best in all three categories.

In fact, he also leads in four stat columns other than average, on-base and slugging. Brandon is tops in OPS (.992), of course, plus runs (60), total bases (152) and doubles (31). He also has nine homers and 40 RBIs.

The stats are even more impressive when you consider that Brandon spent two weeks on the disabled list in June after being hit on the right wrist by a pitch.

The injury prevented Brandon from playing in the All-Star Game, but he has returned to exacting damage on opposing pitchers. 

After five hits in two games at Jupiter earlier this week, Brandon was hitting .330 after the DL stint compared to .335 before.

Brandon's nine homers is a significant total for the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, but he doesn't shoot for the fences.

"I'm not that size," said Brandon, who is listed at six feet, 185 pounds. 

But he gets good velocity off the bat thanks to his legs, generating thrust with his back hip.

Brandon's legs betrayed him in college, though. He missed his freshman season at Maryland because of a torn ACL, then broke the fibula in his other leg in an NCAA Super Regional as a third-year sophomore.

He didn't play the summer after signing with the Rays but made it back for instructional league.

Brandon's first season didn't go as he'd hoped last year, though. He had a .248/.357/.343 slash line in 107 games for Bowling Green.

"I struggled and didn't really know how to get out of it," said Lowe. "I didn't have the foundation, the base, to work from, so I tried different things. Now I have a comfort level at the plate and just try to build off that."

Certainly, it's worked.

Josh is still the Rays' top Lowe prospect, but Brandon is starting to draw attention as well.

In brief

Catching up: Bradenton shortstop Cole Tucker had at least one hit in 13 of his first 15 games after returning from a three-week stint on the disabled list. He also increased his league-best stolen base total to 35. Pittsburgh's No. 5 prospect had a .344/.403/.459 slash line since his return and had stolen eight bases. Tucker, who turned 21 on July 3, was hitting .287 with a .368 on-base percentage for the season in 66 games. The switch-hitter was the Pirates' first-round choice in the 2014 Draft out of a Phoenix high school. 

Video: Marauders' Tucker doubles in a run

Home magic: Fort Myers started the second half 17-6 to grab a hold on first place in the South Division after finishing 33-35 in the first half. The Miracle had an eight-game winning streak that included a four-game sweep of Palm Beach, the first-half champion in the South Division. The turnaround was built on a 11-2 home record to start the second half, increasing Fort Myers' overall record at Hammond Stadium to 33-15. The Miracle got a boost when shortstop Jermaine Palacios was promoted from Class A Cedar Rapids and hit .341 in his first 21 games.

Streak snapped: Lakeland left-hander Matt Hall gave up two runs in the second inning July 16 to break a scoreless streak of 31 1/3 innings and took his first loss since May against Palm Beach, giving up five hits in six innings. Hall (7-6) had gone seven starts without yielding an earned run and dropped his ERA from 5.36 to 2.67. Detroit's sixth-round pick out of Missouri State in 2015 took a perfect game into the ninth inning at Daytona Beach on June 28 to highlight a four-game winning streak, finishing with a two-hitter and 11 strikeouts.

Rough going: Jupiter outfielder Stone Garrett came into the season after a strong winter in which he tied for the lead in the Australian Baseball League with seven homers, but Miami's No. 7 prospect has struggled mightily so far. He was batting .186 with just three homers after 77 games and had struck out 109 times. Garrett, 21, was an eighth-round pick in 2014 and led the New York-Penn League in homers (11), RBIs (46) and OPS (.933) in his second season. He needed surgery after being cut by a knife last season and was limited to 52 games for Class A Greensboro.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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