May 17, 2005
One of Jed Lowrie's first images of the Stanford Baseball program left quite an impression. Lowrie vividly remembers the first thing he saw when he walked into Stanford's locker room a bit early for the first team meeting of his freshman year.
'I was intimidated,' laughed Lowrie about seeing 220-pound senior catcher Ryan Garko. 'I think he introduced himself, but he probably didn't want anything to do with me. He probably didn't even learn my name until about December.'
It's not easy to intimidate Lowrie and plenty of people have learned his name during his last three seasons at Stanford and a stint on Team USA last summer.
He started to make himself known during fall practices at Stanford prior to his freshman season. Once the regular season started, he flirted with the starting job at third base before eventually establishing himself as a full-time starter on other side of the infield at second base in late March and has been in the lineup every game there since with a current string of 138 straight starts at the position.
Lowrie hit a respectable .292 and drove in 28 runs in his rookie season but failed to hit a homer, prompting some critics to site a lack of power in his game.
Lowrie dismissed that notion with an incredible sophomore year, earning First Team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year honors after winning the conference's Triple Crown with 17 homers, 68 RBI and a .399 batting average.
This year, his power stroke has continued with a team-leading 12 homers and 57 RBI that both rank fourth in the Pac-10 to go with a .322 batting average that is second on the club and just one point behind team leader Jim Rapoport. He's in one of his hottest stretches of the season right now with a recent season-high six-game hit streak in which he hit .435 before it was snapped last night.
Still, the critics and their doubts about his success at the next level remain, but so far he's proven them wrong every time.
'I've dealt with that my whole life, and I will probably have to continue to deal with it,' says Lowrie.
With the 2005 MLB First-Year Player Draft coming up next month (June 7-8), it will be interesting to once again find out what the critics think and see where the draft-eligible Lowrie is selected.
Whether Lowrie ends up being a high pick or falls a little bit, he isn't worried.
'It's their (scouts) job to find flaws in your game,' he explains.
Although he admits that it is hard to not think about next month's draft, he is also very concerned with the remainder of the 2005 collegiate season and trying to help the Cardinal peak at just the right time.
He claims Stanford's run at the 2003 College World Series title that fell just short as the 'best couple weeks of my life' and thinks this year's team has the ability to do it again.
'If we got hot at the right time, I believe that we can beat anyone in the nation,' says Lowrie. 'I think we can be just as good as we've been the past few years, but we just need to play more consistently.'
That type of confidence typifies Lowrie and the way he has played baseball his entire life, an approach he put to use soon after his quick introduction to Garko in the locker room.
'When I was younger, I think I was naïve to what others were saying about me but that moment kind of made me realize the type of baseball I would need to play to succeed at this level,' he said. 'I have really developed and become more mature here at Stanford, and that has definitely helped my confidence.'
'Nothing but success can give you that,' he continues.
When the critics show up again at the pro level, Lowrie knows he will need that confidence to carry him through. It's something he's gotten quite used to and plans on taking the same approach he has for many years now.
'I don't carry any sort of vendetta, try to rub it anyone's face or anything like that,' joked Lowrie when asked how much he enjoys proving the critics wrong. 'I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone but myself.'
Lowrie has proven plenty to many without that being his main focus during his three seasons at Stanford, compiling a career .340 batting average, 29 homers and 153 RBI.
'Hopefully that's something I can do when I'm 65 or 70 years old,' says Lowrie about proving himself at the collegiate level. 'Right now, I'm just trying to help this team win by doing what I`m capable doing. That's what drives me. We've had so many good teams at Stanford and as a (junior) class we want to leave our mark as well.'
With five crucial regular season games remaining before an expected 12th consecutive trip to the postseason, Lowrie and the 2005 Cardinal still have a chance to do just that.
By Kyle McRae