Hard Work and Determination: Nate Lowe’s recognition is earned, not given
This story appeared in the 10th edition of Cookbook, the official gameday ingredients of the Montgomery Biscuits.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Each prospect’s path to the Major Leagues is different. Some are highly-touted high school or international signees, becoming a household name fairly quick. Others go under the radar and are forced to fight for a promotion every day.
Nate Lowe’s journey can best be described as the latter.
“I work as hard as I can to be the best player that I can,” said Lowe, who joined the Biscuits on June 8. “I’m working for the things that I’ve got and it’s starting to show.”
Lowe’s rise from junior college All-American to heralded prospect is a story of self-belief and earning every accolade. In high school, the Marietta, Ga., native shattered school records in home runs and doubles at Pope High School. In fact, Lowe had arguably the best season in Greyhounds’ history, setting new single-season marks in six offensive categories and helping his alma mater to a state championship in 2013.
Regardless of his legacy, the six-foot, four-inch slugger’s achievements did not translate to scholarship offers from Southeastern Conference or Atlantic Coast Conference universities.
“Recruiting wasn’t the best for me coming out of high school,” explained Lowe. “No knock on Mercer but ending up there was obviously another step that taught me some things.”
After scarce playing time as a freshman, Lowe decided to leave Division I baseball and transfer to St. Johns River State College (SJR). The decision to play junior college baseball was one the then-teenager never thought he would make. Then, again, the one-time Georgia Class 5A Player of the Year found himself at a crossroads.
“At that point, it was do or die,” said Lowe. “If I was going to play big-time college baseball, I was going to have to put the work in, rather than just coast through.
“Going there and paying your dues and paying it forward for a year before you get back onto the big stage definitely was something that turned my career around.”
In a memorable campaign, Lowe belted 17 home runs while driving in 53 RBIs and carrying a .372 batting average for SJR. His production, finally, allured several Power 5 conference programs to make offers for the upcoming season.
At the same time, Nate’s younger brother, Josh, was quickly making a name for himself as a junior at Pope High School. Not only was Josh being recruited by college baseball powerhouses, but scouts, among others, were concluding he would be the best two-way player in the 2016 MLB Draft. Again, the elder sibling was being overlooked, this time relative to professional baseball.
“Something like that turns into a chip on my shoulder,” said Lowe. “I played with so many great players and watched my brother kind of take an easy route through recruiting and through getting drafted.
“Knowing that I had to work for everything that I got and nothing was given to me helps me out.”
In one season with the Mississippi State Bulldogs, Lowe was among the SEC’s league leaders in batting average, making him a worthwhile pick for the Tampa Bay Rays in the 13th round. Josh, as anticipated, was a first-round pick, chosen by the Rays with the 13th overall selection.
Yet, as Nate walked to the plate at Nationals Park during Major League Baseball’s All-Star Futures Game, he was not filled with resentment for the path he was forced to endure. Instead, Lowe held appreciation for everyone who had supported him. From the coaching staff in high school to his parents, Wendy and David, and his brother, the 23-year old remembered everyone who had contributed to his success.
“As long as it has taken me to get to the point where I am — all the stepping stones I’ve had to go over to get to where I am — it was just a moment of gratitude,” said Lowe, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI for Team USA. “Being in the position I’m at on such a big stage, it is something that you dream about.”
Lowe was one of two Rays’ prospects to represent the organization in Washington, D.C., and was the sixth Biscuit chosen for the contest in the past four years. Now, having joined the likes of Blake Snell and Willy Adames, the first baseman understands the importance of such a recognition.
“It’s an honor because it means the Rays value me a lot,” Lowe said. “It means I am on their radar and they see a nice future for me.”