Reds draft right-hander Rhett Lowder with No. 7 pick

July 10th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- One of the labels attached to Wake Forest starting right-handed pitcher Rhett Lowder ahead of the 2023 MLB Draft was that the 21-year-old was a "late bloomer."

"I wasn’t great in high school," Lowder said. "I was just an undersized kid. I’m still kind of small. I put on some weight and kind of came on the scene later than some of my other peers."

This late bloomer was the seventh overall selection in the 2023 MLB Draft, taken by the Reds on Sunday. The bonus slot for that pick is $6,275,200. Cincinnati also selected right-hander Ty Floyd at No. 38 out of LSU and shortstop Samuel Stafura at No. 43 out of Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.

"It’s a testament to some hard work that was put in and the program we had at Wake and everything," Lowder said. "It’s an honor to be selected here."

Lowder watched the Draft with his family at their home in North Carolina and was greeted with hugs and smiles upon being selected by Cincinnati.

"Once I got the call, I was super excited," Lowder said. "I think it’s going to be a great fit and a nice young team. It’s going to be good.”

When Lowder graduated from North Stanly High school in North Carolina in 2020, he was not targeted by clubs for the Draft.

“I was a super late commit to Wake, actually -- one of the last in my class. I was kind of worried about just landing at a college," Lowder said. "I got a little buzz, not much really. And it was a shortened five-round Draft. I kind of knew I had no shot at that point.”

Lowder, now ranked the No. 6 prospect in the 2023 Draft by MLB Pipeline, is coming off a big season where he had a 1.87 ERA with a 6.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio (143 K, 24 BB) in 120 1/3 innings.

The two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year, Lowder is widely considered one of the more polished arms in the class, his fastball velocity can reach 97 mph and he has a slider. But the pitch that stands out the most is his changeup, which is rated by many scouts as one of the best in college baseball.

Reds amateur scouting director Joe Katuska liked that Lowder was an advanced college pitcher with consistent pitch execution.

"It's a long performance track record, the stuff, the command and control and all of it lines up to be a Major League starting pitcher," Katuska said. "He should be able to move pretty quickly. Obviously, we have to recognize that he threw a lot of innings this year at Wake and we need to protect his long-term potential and not do anything reckless out of the gates, but I would anticipate that he will be a relatively quick-moving college pitcher."

Lowder's secondary pitches became strengths because he was late to develop his fastball velocity in high school, which was in the 80-90 mph range. He further developed his arsenal at the Wake Forest Pitching Lab.

"I always got outs and found ways to pitch. I had to find ways to win when I didn’t throw very hard," Lowder said. "I kind of came with learning to pitch, mix counts early on. Once I did add weight and velocity, that was still there too. I just did it backwards. Some guys add the velocity first and then learn. I feel like I did it the other way.”

In a memorable final start, against eventual national champion LSU in the College World Series, Lowder went toe to toe with MLB Pipeline’s top pitching prospect and No. 1 overall pick, Paul Skenes, and delivered seven scoreless innings while allowing just three hits.

LSU won the game, 2-0, in 11 innings.

"Even leading up to the game, I was just kind of dialed in," Lowder said. "It didn't disappoint. Skenes threw really well and they came out on top."

Floyd had a great seat to watch Lowder work from the LSU dugout.

“He’s pretty freaking good, I’ll say. He’s dirty," Floyd said. "He shoved it up our tails for about seven innings and stuff, so we had no shot against him. I’m excited to play with him.”

Although considered a polished pitcher, Lowder still looks forward to developing his game at the professional level.

"There's a lot of things I've been working on and that I'll continue to work on with the help of the Reds' development system," Lowder said.