Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding big-name free-agent acquisitions such as Carl Crawford and blockbuster trades for power hitters such as Adrian Gonzalez is the scrawny middle infielder who is just about to come into his own this season.
Jed Lowrie has missed out on his opportunities over the past couple of years due to major wrist surgery in ’09 and a bad case of Mono in ’10. The injuries and ailments have kept Lowrie form seizing an opening in the Red Sox middle infield but this year he will be poised to take over shortstop from the aging Marco Scutaro.
Jed Lowrie, SS, Boston Red Sox
2010 Stats: .287/.381/.526, 9 HR, 24 RBI, 31 runs, 1 steal
Average Draft Position: 331
Sleeper Scale Rating: 4
Lowrie enters Spring Training behind Marco Scutaro on the Red Sox depth chart as the shortstop position, but I don’t expect him to be there for very long. Scutaro had a career year with Toronto in 2009 but couldn’t carry over quite the same power or on base percentage that he flashed with the Blue Jays.
The fortunate thing for the Red Sox is that both Scutaro and Lowrie are both capable of handling backup duties at either short, second or third if they don’t break camp as the starter.
Lowrie breezed through the Red Sox minor league system hitting for a good batting average and showing a veteran approach at the plate the entire way. He was named the team’s minor league player of the year in 2007 and made his major league debut the following year. If not for a terrible wrist injury in 2009, Lowrie would have been the Red Sox starting shortstop and Scutaro may never have been signed in 2010.
What makes Lowrie such and interesting player is his knack for working the counts, setting up the pitcher, getting his pitch and driving it. Although he’s not a big guy, Lowrie has solid pop in his bat due to great pitch recognition and quick wrists. He will make a living by hitting doubles off of the green monster at Fenway Park.
While his bat is definitely above average for a middle infielder, it will probably be his glove that wins him the job at short and keeps him there all year. He can get to the ball both up the middle and in the hole and can make all the throws as well. He doesn’t make errors either which will keep him in the lineup even during prolonged slumps.
Lowrie was a first round draft pick and soared through the minor league system for a reason. He is a very talented kid who will flourish in Boston this year because of the assortment of talent around him. It is much easier for a young player to hit in a lineup while protected by the likes of Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz.
Lowrie’s ability to get on base should result in a lot of runs scored this season. He will also see plenty of fastballs as a result of opposing pitchers not wanting to put him on base for the big sluggers that are to follow in this Boston lineup. It really is the perfect situation for a player of Lowrie’s age and skill set.
It all comes down to when Lowrie takes over for Marco Scutaro as the starting shortstop. This will be a good race during Spring Training but in the end I believe the upside of Lowrie wins out over the veteran presence of Scutaro. Once he takes over the starting job and is in the lineup on a daily basis, the stats will pile up quicker than trade rumors involving Carmelo Anthony.
This is a classic find late in fantasy drafts and the perfect candidate for the middle infield spot on a championship caliber fantasy team.
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