On December 10, the Rangers acquired Lowe, first baseman Jake Guenther, and a player to be named later from the Rays for infielder Oselvis Basabe, catcher Heriberto Hernandez, and outfielder Alexander Ovalles.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 10, 2020
For years, the Rays blocked Lowe in the organization and didn’t give him the required playing time for ballplayers to develop and learn.
Most recently, Tampa preferred to play Ji-Man Choi over Lowe, who has been ready for full MLB exposure for at least a couple of years.
But now, Lowe is expected to receive regular playing time as the Rangers’ first baseman.
The Rangers are starting from scratch, embarking on a rebuilding process led by new general manager Chris Young.
The fact that Texas is rebuilding means that they will stick with Lowe even if he struggles for a few weeks, as they want to see what they have in him.
That said, the one thing that will determine whether Lowe breaks out or not will be how he takes advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
Does he have what it takes?
Nate Lowe Has Some Impressive Minor League Numbers
We are tired of seeing players whose tools have been praised by scouts, only to fail to put up stats; and seemingly “mediocre” players from a scouting standpoint put up some impressive numbers.
In Lowe’s case, he has both things going on for him.
A beautiful swing and a good approach at the plate helped him put a .300/.400/.483 line and a .883 OPS (on base percentage plus slugging) in 405 minor league games, which is extremely impressive.
Basically, there is more than enough data to suggest that Lowe, at peak, is a .300 batting average type of hitter.
He also has power, with 27 home runs in three levels during the 2018 season and 23 between Triple-A and the big leagues in 2019.
By weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+ (one of the best stats available to determine offensive performance, with 100 being average and anything over that number considered above-average) Lowe has always finished with more than 100, at every stop, in every year of his professional career.
Will 2021 Be A Breakout Season For Lowe?
Even with 2020’s low batting average of .224, he had a 102 wRC+ by virtue of his four homers in just 76 plate appearances and his .433 slugging percentage.
Lowe should have had a higher batting average in 2020, in part because he is a line-drive hitter as evidenced by his 28.2 line-drive percentage.
With a full slate of at-bats, which is what he is looking at right now as he is set to play for a rebuilding team, Nate Lowe can fully break out in the 2021 season.
Expect a batting average of at least .270, with around 25 home runs, plenty of extra-base hits, and above-average offensive contributions from the slugging first baseman.
Nate Lowe’s first action as a Ranger: stand up double. pic.twitter.com/3uiod8G1xY
— kennedi landry (@kennlandry) March 1, 2021
For Nate Lowe, 2021 could be THE year.