Rhett Lowder Fantasy Baseball Breakdown

A Rhett Lowder fantasy baseball breakdown

For anybody looking for some baseball to watch to get through the rest of the offseason, rewatch the 2023 College World Series game between Wake Forest & LSU. In a game that featured the two best college arms in the country, it lived up to the hype. LSU’s Tommy White ended up hitting a walk-off two-run home run in the 11th inning to send the Tigers to the National Championship, where they went on to beat the University of Florida to win it all. But the lead-up to that 11th-inning blast is what made this matchup so special.

The eventual #1 overall pick in the ’23 draft, Paul Skenes, battled it out with the eventual #7 overall pick, Rhett Lowder, in a game that felt more like boxers delivering blows than pitchers going back and forth. Rhett Lowder, the two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year, walked away from that outing with a lot of people believing he will be a fast riser to an MLB rotation, and with his skillset, there is no reason he won’t be pushing to make an impact for the Reds soon.


Rhett Lowder: As Polished as They Come

2023 Stats: Did not pitch due to being shut down after the draft.

2023 College Stats: 120 IP/1.87 ERA/143:24 K:BB

When Rhett Lowder was going through the recruiting process, he only received one Power Five offer to play baseball in college. That offer came from Wake Forest University. Since his first season in 2021, Wake Forest baseball has transformed from a competitive program to a destination program because of their impressive track record with player development, while being at the forefront of data and analytics in college baseball (hear coach Tom Walter talk about the rise of the program here). The college career of Rhett Lowder is synonymous with the rise of Wake Forest Baseball.

Well-known for their player development, specifically the utilization of their Pitching Lab, Rhett progressed from under-recruited RHP, ranked 48th in the state of North Carolina out of high school, to ACC Pitcher of the Year in 2022, an award he also won in 2023. So what led to the rise of Lowder from under-recruited to two-time ACC Pitcher of the Year and a slam dunk first round pick?


In Command of the Zone

Rhett Lowder’s calling card is his ability to command three pitches in the zone. He was voted ‘Best Pitchability’ by MLB front office executives according to MLB.com, showcasing how highly regarded he is in the ability to attack hitters in the zone. During his college career, he only walked 2.3 batters per 9 with a 1.8 BB/9 ratio during the 2023 season. That is George Kirby territory, who during his college career at Elon walked 1.9 batters per 9 in three seasons.

Lowder’s ability to command all three of his pitches is why many believe he can have a fast rise to the Reds’ MLB rotation. He is freakishly athletic on the mound, which allows him to repeat his mechanics, even with an “unconventional” landing at foot strike.

You can see in this photo that his foot is almost pointed to the first base dugout. A lot of coaches would consider this as a problem, causing his front shoulder to fly open, but this is where the Pitching Lab at Wake, and an understanding of Rhett’s anatomy, allows him to repeat this movement without it being coached out of him. Natural foot strike is super important to creating repeatable mechanics. A lot of times movement profiles are the body putting guardrails on what an athlete is capable of. Instead of being coached out of something that may seem unnatural, Rhett was encouraged to move naturally which leads to this abnormal foot strike but does not limit what he is capable of in his ability to throw strikes.


Dominant Off-speed Pitches

Because there is so much talk about Lowder’s ability to throw strikes, many people seem to think that comes with a sacrifice in the quality of his repertoire. That is just simply not the case. Lowder features three above-average offerings, with both his change-up and slider being legit out pitches. The more dominant of the two offerings is his change-up.

His CH features legit arm-side depth and fade. It is his best pitch metrically averaging 0 in vertical movement with between 18-20 in horizontal at 87 mph, according to Rhett. It also comes with impressive arm speed that creates confusion for the hitter because it looks like a fastball for a very long time. He can throw it to both righties and lefties, keeping hitters off balance. You can see below in this video from Rob Friedman just how filthy his change-up is.

The slider is a pitch that has really transformed over the last couple of years for Lowder. After some tinkering, and trying to create a sweeper, Rhett adjusted to chasing more velocity and spin on the pitch instead of a specific movement profile, as he stated in the same interview from earlier here. This adjustment made the pitch nastier, getting on hitters quicker and diving away at the last second. You can see how filthy his slider is in this video also from Rob Friedman, where seven of his nine K’s come on the slider.


Underrated Fastball

While the off-speed pitches are Lowder’s true swing-and-miss pitches, his fastball also plays at a very high level. He usually sits in the low to mid 90’s but has shown the ability to get up to 97 mph. He utilizes both a four-seamer and a sinker that are effective in different ways. Lowder’s low release point allows his four-seam to play well up in the zone despite a lack of ride. Here is an example of this against LSU:

The combination of his low release height with good horizontal movement allows that pitch to sneak over barrels up in the zone. The pitch sits in the 16-18 in vertical movement range from a low release height. The sinker is the more common pitch you see from Rhett. It has good fading action allowing for a lot of groundballs, usually in the 8-10 in vertical movement range from the same interview with Rhett talking about his shapes. Both of these massively play up due to Rhett’s command and ability to attack on both sides of the plate with different shapes.

Fantasy Outlook

Rhett Lowder does not throw 100 mph. But the reality is he does not need to. The ability to command three above-average to plus offerings in the zone makes his stuff play at a high level. Both breaking balls are legit swing-and-miss options at the professional level, and the advancements in the slider allow it to play up. The combination of limiting hard contact, while also having above-average swing and miss pitches, all while attacking hitters with a ton of strikes is a recipe for success at the next level.

Lowder’s profile is eerily similar to that of Logan Webb. This past season Webb used his CH 41.6% of the time as his most used pitch. Lowder could utilize a similar approach. Utilizing his best pitch as his most frequent offering and working every other pitch off of it. That will allow his other pitches to play up against tougher competition. Lowder is never going to put up Spencer Strider-level swing-and-miss numbers, but the safety net is there for Lowder to be a mid-rotation starter. His arsenal makes it likely he will become a reliable asset for fantasy managers. Now enjoy this voodoo magic from the home plate view of Lowder’s change-up below.


Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Reds | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on X)

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