Jed-i Knight: Lowrie fitting in just fine
Rookie shortstop just the latest among up-and-coming prospects
BOSTON -- It was a common sight prior to Red Sox home games throughout the summer. Jed Lowrie, fresh off a mid-July callup to replace an injured Julio Lugo at shortstop, hitting the field long before regular batting practice prior to game time.
He took extra cuts at the plate, extra ground balls and extra reps turning double plays with second baseman Dustin Pedroia -- generally all more than three hours before the first pitch was thrown.
As the team forges through October, Lowrie's extra workouts seem to be paying off.
"It's just about getting out there and getting extra work in, and getting comfortable on the field," Lowrie said. "Using the resources they have up here to the fullest advantage."
Lowrie is making the most of his time with Boston. As the Red Sox prepare to face the Rays in the American League Championship Series starting Friday night, the 24-year-old Minor League product is becoming the latest installment of young, ready-to-play talent from the farm system.
|Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie is just the fourth rookie in Major League history to end a postseason series with a walk-off hit.|
|Jed Lowrie||2008||Red Sox|
Like Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury a year ago -- making their postseason debuts for a championship-caliber team -- Lowrie is quickly gaining a reputation for having the ability to come up with big hits. That was evident enough in Game 4 of the AL Division Series against the Angels, when Lowrie laced a grounder to right field that scored the series-clinching run on Monday night.
He batted .364 in the ALDS, scoring two runs and collecting that pivotal RBI to eliminate the Halos.
"Guys have stepped in and played great," said Pedroia, who batted .283 with two homers and 10 RBIs during his first postseason in 2007. "That's been the biggest thing. When one guy goes down, another guy has stepped up and played better."
That certainly was the case with Lowrie.
The 45th overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Lowrie spent the first half of the 2008 campaign with Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .268 with the PawSox, while driving in 32 runs.
But when Lugo suffered a severe left quad injury on July 11, Lowrie was called up with Boston in the middle of a pennant race. He was up to the challenge.
Lowrie batted .258 with the Red Sox, hitting his stride in August with a .284 average and 24 RBIs. He had 16 extra-base hits in September, ensuring there was no doubt the young shortstop could compete at the Major League level.
"It says a lot about the scouting department and a lot about their Draft," said first baseman Sean Casey of the Red Sox's organization. "And I think it really matters what you do to develop players. Guys step up at the best times for you -- how you get to the postseason and in the postseason."
Having seen Lowrie firsthand this year -- coupled with the players Ellsbury, Pedroia and Jon Lester have become -- Casey visibly admires how the Red Sox's farm system prepares these young players to develop quickly and become playoff-ready contributors.
"The list goes on and on of impact players," Casey said, "because they've taken the time and resources to put into scouting."
Three years removed from being an early-round Draft pick, Lowrie quickly learned what it takes to be a component of this Red Sox clubhouse. He said it's not a place just anyone can thrive in, and it's something the organization understands when selecting young prospects.
"It comes down to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] and those guys drafting guys that thrive in an environment like this," Lowrie said. "You have to have a strong personality; you have to be able to stand up for your actions -- good or bad."
If not, the pressure of a pennant chase can become overwhelming.
"It's undeniable," Lowrie said. "Every move you make is going to be scrutinized, so you need to know yourself as a player."
One thing is for sure: When Lowrie slapped that game-winning hit to right field on Monday night and began celebrating with his teammates, he officially became the latest Red Sox prospect to respond to playoff intensity with a veteran presence.
There's no question that as this team takes on the Rays with a World Series appearance on the line, Lowrie will use that extra summer preparation to his advantage.
Essentially, he's become a perfect fit for a team that relies on everyone playing a small role in seeing the big picture.
"That's another thing about this team," Lowrie said. "It's not just guys relying on each other, it's the whole team relying on each other."
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.