Cincinnati Signs First Round Pick Lowder For Less Than Slot Value

Rhett Lowder of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the fifth inning during the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on May 25, 2023 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

The Cincinnati Reds on Friday signed the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft, starting pitcher Rhett Lowder from Wake Forest University, for $5.7 million. 

The Reds signed Lowder to a contract lower than the slot value of $6.28 million, which was the maximum allowed for signing the seventh overall selection. The team received the pick on December 5, 2022, during MLB’s first-ever draft lottery at the 2022 Winter Meetings in San Diego. 

Last season, in his junior year at Wake Forest, Lowder went 15-0 with a 1.87 ERA, throwing 120.1 innings and allowing 90 hits, nine home runs, 24 walks, and striking out 143 batters in 19 starts, posting a 0.947 WHIP.  

Lowder was fourth in the country in ERA, fourth in strikeouts, and had the most wins in NCAA Division I during the 2023 season, helping the Demon Deacons reach the College World Series for the first time since the program won their lone national title in 1955. 

The Wake Forest program led the country in WHIP at 1.05, strikeouts per nine innings at 12.1, strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.26, and ERA at 2.83, with the help of pitching coach Thomas Muscara. 

Lowder pitched in the elimination game against the eventual 2023 National Champion Louisiana State University Tigers on June 22 in Omaha, going head-to-head with No. 1 pick Paul Skenes and throwing a dominant seven innings allowing three hits, no earned runs, walking two batters, and six strikeouts with 88 pitches. Wake Forest lost 2-0 when LSU third baseman Tommy White hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. 

In his three seasons at Wake Forest, Lowder went 30-5, posting a 3.29 ERA and throwing 287.1 innings in 47 starts, allowing 260 hits, 32 home runs, 72 walks, and striking out 326 with a 1.155 WHIP. 

Lowder’s fastball sits between 92 and 96 mph, and is complemented with a slider at 84-87 mph with a two-plane break and a spin rate around 2,700 rpm. His changeup as well has serious fade and dive with a velocity between 84-87 mph.

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