Few players get the opportunity to go high in the Major League Baseball draft. It’s even rarer that two brothers will go high in the draft, but that’s the possibility facing Pope (Marietta, Ga.) third baseman-pitcher Josh Lowe and his older brother Nathaniel, a first baseman at Mississippi State.
Josh Lowe, a 6-4, 190-pound senior, is hitting .400 with nine homers, 33 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 80 at-bats going into Tuesday’s AAAAAA quarterfinal opener against South Cobb (Austell). He’s also Pope’s closer and has a 1.71 ERA with 28 strikeouts and six saves in 16.1 innings pitches. The Florida State commit is considered a likely first-round choice in most mock drafts.
Nathaniel, a 6-3, 245-pound junior first baseman, leads Mississippi State with 38 RBI and is second on the team with a .381 average through 188 at-bats. While most mock drafts don’t have Nathaniel going as high as the first round, he is considered a possible second-round choice.
“That would be a humbling experience for sure … especially in the same draft class — that’s pretty crazy,” Josh said. “We chat probably about once or twice a week. We don’t really talk baseball because we’re busy enough as it is.
“When he’s home, we work out together a lot and help each other that way and push each other a lot.”
Because of some strong pitching performances in the summer, some teams are looking at Josh as a pitcher.
“I see myself playing third base just because I’ve played there for so long that it is so natural to me,” Lowe said. “Honestly, it doesn’t really matter to me. Whatever I need to do to help whatever team I am on to win, that’s what I am about.”
Jeff Rowland, his coach at Pope, said Lowe has made scouts job harder because he’s shown the ability to play several positions.
“He’s definitely in the lineup every day,” Rowland said. “He’s been our primary closer. He made a real splash as a pitcher early last summer, but since people began realizing how well he swings the bat, the pitching has taken a little bit of a back seat. We’ve put him in center field, but for our team needs, he’s pretty much at third base. He takes the short game away from other teams at third.”
Lowe said his progress has been steady.
“I feel like with more repetitions, I’ve gotten better,” Lowe said. “I’m always working as hard as I can, whether it’s in the cage or in the field, trying to focus on certain things. I just try to think about putting the ball on the barrel and hitting as hard as I can and seeing what happens.”
Lowe’s father Dave was drafted as a pitcher in the fifth round by the Seattle Mariners in 1986, but instead accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and played football and baseball for the Middies before becoming a career Navy pilot. Like his father, Josh played several sports growing up. He was a wide receiver up until his junior year for Pope.
“I played all football, baseball, basketball and soccer growing up, but baseball got to me the most,” Lowe said. “That’s because I know my dad had a background in it and also because I grew up watching my brother play.”
This year, three other players in the Northern suburbs of Atlanta are expected to go in the first round: Lowe, Walton (Marietta) infielder Carter Kieboom; and Will Benson, an outfielder from The Westminster School (Atlanta).
“I don’t really think it’s a fluke,” Lowe said. “We’ve been playing together since we’ve been young. We were all pretty good then and kept our nose to the grindstone and played as hard as we could and look where we are now. I know Carter. I work out at the same place, over at Rapid Sports (Performance), and we get after it together there.”
One quirk in Lowe’s style is he has a high leg kick as a right-handed pitcher and as a left-handed hitter.
“That’s just a little trigger that Josh has to get himself into the swing,” Rowland said. “Our hitting coach does a lot of work on timing. Josh has a lot of room to grow, and he’s already shown plus power. Nothing that he does in a game surprises us because we’ve seen it every day in practice. If he relaxes and just plays, he’s going to shine. He has that type of athletic ability.”