July 29, 2007
By David Driver
Special to the Statesman Journal (Oregon)
Used with permission
BOWIE, Md. -- North Salem High graduate Jed Lowrie was supposed to begin a three-game road series here Tuesday night against the Bowie Baysox, a Class AA team of the Baltimore Orioles in the Eastern League.
But Lowrie, who began this season with Class AA Portland (Maine) in the Boston Red Sox farm system, was called into the office of Sea Dogs manager Arnie Beyeler following Thursday night's game in Portland.
Lowrie, an infielder who was hitting nearly .297 with 31 doubles, eight homers and 49 RBIs, was given good news: he was being promoted to Class AAA Pawtucket (R.I.), the top farm team of the Red Sox.
Also on hand for the meeting was Portland hitting coach Russ Morman, roving hitting instructor Victor Rodriguez and Mike Hazen, the director of player development for the Red Sox.
Now Lowrie, a former standout at Stanford University, is just one stop from the major leagues.
"It is hard not to look at that. I have had some success," Lowrie said in a telephone interview Friday from Toledo, Ohio, where Pawtucket was ending a series in the International League.
Lowrie began this season as the 16th-best prospect in the Boston Red Sox farm system, according to Baseball America.
He had a two-run single to tie the game 2-2 on Friday in his first game with Pawtucket, as the Red Sox won 4-2. Lowrie had one hit in four at bats for Pawtucket, which began a series in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday.
The promotion is even more impressive considering Lowrie was batting .160 in late April. He rebounded so well that he had one stretch in which he reached base in 38 straight games, the third-best streak in Sea Dogs history.
"I really didn't change anything at the plate," said Lowrie, who wa less in four at bats with a walk in his last game with Portland on Thursday. "I just wasn't getting any hits (early on). I just stuck with it. I just found my groove. I was just missing my pitches."
He also noted that the first month of the season was tough for hitters, as poor weather in the northeastern United States forced several postponements for Portland, and cold weather for some of the games the Sea Dogs did play.
Lowrie was drafted by the Red Sox out of Stanford as a first-round supplemental pick, and he made his pro debut that year with Lowell in the short-season A New York-Penn League. He hit .328 with four homers and 32 RBIs in 201 at-bats, with a slugging percentage of .448.
Lowrie advanced to high Class A Wilmington (Del.) of the Carolina League in 2006 and was hitting .227 when he came down with a high ankle sprain. That put him out of action for several weeks, until around mid-June.
"Someone told me the recovery would have been quicker if the ankle would have been broken," Lowrie said. "It took me about six to seven weeks to get back."
He finished the season with a .262 average in 374 at bats, with three homers and 50 RBIs, while his slugging percentage fell to .374.
His success in 2007 earned him the nod by Baseball American as the Red Sox player taking the best leap forward.
"Double-A Portland second baseman Jed Lowrie arrived in 2005 with David Eckstein/Dustin Pedroia comparisons -- maybe not the most gifted player, but a gritty one who did all the little things. He made a solid debut at Lowell, then struggled through an ankle injury in 2006," said the industry publication.
"But fully healthy in 2007, he has thrust himself into the prospect mix. Though Lowrie, 23, may project as a utility infielder, he has the arm and glove to play shortstop," said Baseball America.
Lowrie's parents, Dan and Miriam, still live in Salem. His mother was in Maine with other family members to see him play when Lowrie was promoted to Pawtucket. His father plans to see him play in Pawtucket in August, along with other family members.
After getting the good news Thursday night, Lowrie called his mother, who was staying with other relatives at a hotel in Portland. The infielder packed his belongings and got just 15 minutes of sleep before his mother and aunt drove him to the airport early Friday in Portland.
"That was all I could do: pack and get out of there," he said.
His flight left around 6 a.m. for Detroit, where he changed plans and flew to Toledo. He was at Fifth Third Field by around noon and played that night.
Lowrie has never been to Pawtucket, which is about one hour south of Boston. He did take batting practice at Fenway Park when he signed with the Red Sox, and if he keeps hitting he may find himself in Boston before the season is over.
Lowrie was named to the Eastern League all-star game in July as a shortstop (fog in Connecticut ended the game in the third inning and he did not play), but he may also see time at second base for Pawtucket. Lowrie played second at Stanford, and was drafted as a second baseman.
"It might be a little of everything," he said of his role with Pawtucket. "The more versatile you are, the more valuable you are."
And right now, Lowrie is feeling very valuable.