Can Marvin Lowrance Get Out of Potomac?

Some guys just take a while to advance and Marvin Lowrance is one of those guys. In his third tour of duty with the Potomac Nationals, the young outfielder is still waiting for a sniff of Double-A ball.

Marvin Lowrance thought he was ready to start last season at Double-A Harrisburg. "I would like to begin the 2007 season in Harrisburg and my goal is to play a great outfield, steal a lot more bags and stay consistent with my approach at the plate day in and day out," said Lowrance at the end of the 2006 season. Not only did he not start the season at Harrisburg, but he spent part of the season in the South Atlantic League, two steps below Double-A. This season, Lowrance had to figure he was in line for that big jump to the Senators, but it didn't come and still hasn't.

It all begs the question of whether Lowrance is ready now for Double-A and, if not, will he ever be ready?

Playing for Potomac in parts of three different seasons, Lowrance has hit .259 with a combined 33 home runs and 138 RBI in 972 at bats. The numbers aren't as good as many in the Nationals organization believed they would be when Lowrance was taken by the Nationals (at that time, they were the Expos) in the seventh round of the 2004 Draft. At the time, they had hoped for more power and a player that would definitely hit at a higher average. In other words, they expected the player that they've seen at levels below the Carolina League. In those situations, Lowrance has hit a combined 13-75-.297 in 516 at bats.

With the jump to Double-A considered by many to be the toughest jump on the ladder to the majors, it may not be too out of line for the Nationals to want to see more proof from Lowrance that he's ready. The proof may be starting to come as Lowrance has started to turn up the heat lately, including hitting .474 (9-for-19) over a five-game stretch recently to pick up the honor of being named the Carolina League's Offensive Player of the Week for the week ending July 6th. The hot hitting has continued with Lowrance picking up three more hits in his last two games to put himself on a 12-for-24 (.500) run since the end of June.

Part of the problem is the loaded outfield at Harrisburg. Roger Bernadina was just pulled to the big league club from Double-A, but heavyweights Mike Daniel and Justin Maxwell are still with the Senators, as is Garrett Guzman. Maxwell has missed over a month with an injury, meaning that there could be room for Lowrance to squeeze in if things fall his way.

The Nationals would be smart to consider one of two things. Either, move Lowrance up now, while he's hot and his confidence is high. Or, hope that he continues to pound the ball for two or three more weeks and move him at the end of the month, giving him a month at Double-A to get his feet wet before figuring on having him back at Harrisburg to start the 2009 season.

The problem is that there is still just too much potential in Lowrance and not quite enough on the stat sheets to warrant the move. A hot month of July would change all of that and make him a perfect candidate to move up a level. If that happens and the move still doesn't come, then there has to be something else that's holding the Nationals back from truly believing that Lowrance has the ability to be a top-notch player. Patience certainly isn't a bad thing, but too much patience can make a player begin to get a little itchy and start to doubt himself. If Lowrance stays hot, he'll force the Nats to make a move, whether they want to, or not.

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