LOWELL -- Edgar and Ray Velazquez are sweet-swinging brothers who have mastered the art of barreling up baseballs.
This dynamic duo is capable of producing runs in bunches for Lowell High. Edgar, a senior center fielder, and Ray, a sophomore shortstop, share the same bloodlines and approach at the plate when it comes to spraying hits to all fields.
And, oh brother, do Edgar and Ray ever shine on the diamond. They play the game with a purity of purpose and talent that's allowed them to instinctively emerge as difference makers at the plate and in the field.
Edgar, 18, a co-captain who stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 140 pounds, is Lowell's leadoff hitter. Last spring, Edgar batted .376 with 32 hits, including three triples and five doubles, 24 runs scored, 10 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .480 on-base-percentage.
Ray, 16, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 185 pounds, had a stellar freshman campaign in 2018. The No. 3 batter in Lowell's order, Ray hit .359 with two triples, four doubles, 16 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .464 on-base-percentage.
"Prior to last season, we hadn't played on the same team much," said Edgar. "It was a lot of fun. We talk baseball all the time. There's some brotherly rivalry when it comes to trying to out do each other. But it's all in good fun. It helps us push each other to be better."
Ray is four inches taller and 45 pounds heavier than Edgar, but he will always look up to his big brother.
"He's everything you'd want in a big brother," said Ray. "I love playing with him. I feel like we have this chemistry on the field. It's great. He's probably one of the best hitters I've ever seen. Edgar is much smarter than me when it comes to knowing baseball. He teaches me by the way he goes out and plays. The things he tells me makes me a better hitter."
Edgar certainly knows of what he speaks when it comes to squaring up a pitch. A four-year varsity performer, Edgar had a .
"He is definitely a contact hitter," said Lowell coach Dan Graham. "He does not strike out a lot. I was at the cages the other day with the kids and when I watch Edgar hit he doesn't miss the barrel too often. That's because his approach at the plate is a simple one. He lets the ball travel, get deep, and he stays inside the ball and takes it the other way.
"It doesn't mean that he's always spraying the ball to the opposite field. But by letting the ball travel and having a nice simplistic approach, it allows him to hit for average and have a good on-base-percentage."
Edgar is an excellent fielding center fielder with a strong throwing arm. He possesses the speed needed to track down fly balls in the gaps.
"He gets great reads off the bat," said Graham. "He makes difficult catches look easy. He's very fluid. He makes running catches look pretty effortless and it has to do with him getting such a good jump."
Edgar plans on continuing his baseball career at Northern Essex Community College next year. But right now, he is totally focused on helping Lowell challenge for the top spot in the MVC Division 1 standings.
"I love to hit," said Edgar. "I love to get on base. I love to help the team out as much as I can. I just love playing baseball."
Ray shares Edgar's passion for the game. He arrived at tryouts last spring as a highly-hyped freshman and lived up to his advance billing by earning a berth on the MVC all-conference team.
"It was obvious right away he had the bat speed and size to make an immediate impact," said Graham. "He really looked the part offensively and defensively basically from the first day in the gym.
"He's probably a better in-game player than he is at practice some times. I think he tries to do a little too much at batting practice. I'm trying to get him to understand that power is not created by length in the swing. It's the short, compact swing where you generate bat speed. But he's so young. These are things he'll learn. Once he gets this stuff, the sky's the limit."
Ray can hit for power and average, and can play pretty much anywhere in the field.
"He does everything well without me having to tell him anything," said Edgar. "Once in a while, I'll give him some big brother advice. I tell him to stay mentally tough. It's going to happen where you go through stretches when they get you out. Just keep your focus and keep working hard."
Ray has already caught the eye of several Division 1 college programs.
"I think he can go anywhere and play," said Graham. "It's just a matter of getting in front of the right coaches."
Edgar and Ray were raised in a baseball family. Their father, Edgar, played baseball in Puerto Rico growing up. Their older brother, Christian Ponce, played baseball at Lowell High. They have a younger brother, Bryan, who is a talented ballplayer.
"We're always there for each other," said Ray. "We all love the game. We all want the best for each other."
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi