Just five days after getting drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with the seventh overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, Albemarle native Rhett Lowder became the first top-10 selection this year to sign a contract to his new organization.
In a team-friendly deal made on July 14, the former North Stanly Comet right-handed pitcher and Wake Forest star agreed to terms with a $5.7 million signing bonus that comes in below the $6.28 million slot value of the seventh selection.
By signing Lowder, 21, to an under-slot value deal, Cincinnati will now have an extra $575,200 to potentially spend on overslot deals for second-rounder Sammy Stafura and fourth-round pick Cole Shoenwetter.
Lowder, a two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year (2022 and 2023), led the NCAA in wins (15) during his junior season in 19 appearances while ranking fourth in ERA (1.87).
He is currently stationed at the Reds’ training facility in Goodyear, AZ, where he will likely await his first minor-league assignment with the Daytona Tortugas (Single-A), Daytona Dragons (High-A) or Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A).
“I feel like what I’m most proud of is the command I have for all my pitches,” Lowder said after being drafted on July 9. “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. I know I have a lot of work cut out for me but I’m pretty proud of the command I have with the baseball and what I can do with it.”
Lowder’s draft stock was bolstered by his recent performances in the College World Series.
With the postseason fate of Wake Forest’s baseball team hanging on a must-win game against LSU in the semifinal round on June 22, Demon Deacons coach Tom Walter called on his ace to take the mound in a winner-take-all situation with the hopes of advancing to the College World Series finals.
Lowder was up to the challenge, tossing 63 strikes in 88 pitches while allowing no runs and just three hits in seven efficient innings.
While the top-seeded Demon Deacons eventually lost in the 11th inning, they still came away from the season with program records in regular season wins, ACC wins, ACC series wins, postseason wins and overall wins.