Reds draft Wake Forest pitcher in first round

Cincinnati adds another pitcher, shortstop with second, third picks

The Cincinnati Reds drafted 21-year-old right-handed pitcher Rhett Lowder from Wake Forest with the seventh pick in Sunday’s Major League Baseball draft.

Lowder, the 2022 and 2023 ACC pitcher of the year, was 6-0 with a 1.84 ERA this year to help Wake reach the College World Series. He was rated the No. 6 prospect in the draft by and the No. 2 pitcher behind LSU’s Paul Skenes, who was selected No. 1 overall by Pittsburgh.

“I’m super excited to come to Cincinnati, and I think it’s a going be a great fit,” Lowder said on a Zoom call with reporters Sunday evening. “And a nice young team that’s going to be good.”

The Reds went right-handed pitcher again with their second pick of 21-year-old Ty Floyd of LSU at No. 38 overall in the competitive balance portion of the round.

Lowder, who just completed his junior season, was not highly recruited out of Albemarle, N.C., and was a late signee to Wake. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and considers himself undersized.

“I guess you could call me a late bloomer,” he said. “I wasn’t great in high school. I was an undersized kid, I’m still kind of small. But I put on some weight and kind of came onto the scene later than some of my other peers. It’s just a testament to some hard work that was put in and the program that we had at Wake.”

Lowder’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, and he keeps hitters off balance with a mid-80s changeup. The reviews by scouts and draft analysts see him as a polished pitcher for his age and as someone who learned to be a pitcher before the velocity improved to a first-round level.

“I didn’t throw very hard in high school, but I always got outs,” he said. “I had to find ways to pitch, I had to find ways to win.

“What I’m most proud of is just the command I have for all my pitches. I know that’s why most people think that I’m polished and not much can get better, but I think shapes and everything can obviously always improve. There’s a million ways you can get better in this game.”

Lowder said a lot of his pre-draft conversation with the Reds was about how he became a late bloomer.

“They wanted to talk about the evolution of my career, learn more about me, how I am as a pitcher, how my brain works a little bit,” he said.

Lowder said he wants to get stronger as he works on pitching in the Reds’ minor-league system.

“I’m really excited to get into the developmental system within professional baseball,” he said. “I know I came from a background of it already a little bit, but I feel like no matter how nice the Wake Forest pitching lab is, still you’re taking that next step in professional baseball. You can’t beat it.”

Floyd, also 6-2, 200, pitched in the College World Series and struck out 17 in one start.

With the No. 43 overall pick and the fourth pick of the second round, the Reds selected shortstop Sammy Stafura of Walter Panas High School in Cortland, New York. Stafura, 6-0, 188, made a college commitment to play at Clemson.

Rounds 3-10 were held Monday and rounds 11-20 are on Tuesday.

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