Reid Detmers was one of the top high school baseball prospects in the state of Illinois in 2017. The left-handed pitcher had chances to embark on a professional career straight out of high school but opted against that option.
Instead, he remained loyal to his commitment to the University of Louisville due to his relationship with the coaches and the program’s competitive history. His decision to attend Louisville has paid off over the last two years. After experiencing mixed results as a freshman, Detmers thrived as a sophomore last year.
Detmers carried the Cardinals’ pitching staff and was a key piece to a team that made it to the College World Series in 2019. He set Louisville program records in wins (13) and strikeouts (167) last year.
Detmers’ success last season and intangibles on the mound have made him a sought after prospect for June’s MLB draft. Professional scouts consider the junior lefty hurler a potential top-10 pick in the draft, after he fell to the 32nd round as a high school senior in 2017 due to his strong commitment.
“I opted to go to college after high school because I knew I wasn’t physically ready,” Detmers said. “I was probably mentally ready but not physically. Just being at Louisville has been great for me to get stronger, learn the game and learn about pitching more. I think it’s been really good for me to come to college for these three years and perform at one of the highest levels.”
Detmers, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty, throws a four-pitch mix, featuring a four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup and cutter, from a smooth and repeatable delivery out of a three-quarters arm slot. He has solid command and consistently attacks the strike zone.
His best pitch is his low-to-mid-90s fastball that he locates well in all areas of the strike zone. His curveball features big break and serves as his strikeout pitch.
“I think my pitchability is my biggest strength with being able to throw all my pitches for strikes to get outs,” Detmers said.
Midway through last season, Detmers started throwing a cutter. He didn’t use it frequently, however, as he wasn’t fully comfortable throwing it, he said. He added the pitch to his repertoire to give him another option for attacking right-handed hitters.
After using his cutter more throughout the summer and in fall baseball, Detmers plans on incorporating it into his repertoire frequently this season.
“I’m just trying to get something different,” said Detmers on his cutter. “It has a little harder break than my curveball, and I just want to get it in on the hands of righties. It’s just something different for hitters to see.”
His changeup features sink and is an effective off-speed pitch. He’s refined that offering throughout his first two years at Louisville after having little feel for the pitch in high school.
“My freshman year, I started to throw it a little more and got a little more feel for it,” Detmers said. “Then I threw it a lot during the summer after my freshman year in summer ball. That’s really when it started to take off. Then last year, I felt really good throwing it.”
Last year, the Cardinals lost in the semifinals to Vanderbilt, who went on to win the championship. It marked their deepest postseason finish in program history and resulted in the second-most wins (51) they’ve ever had.
This season, the Cardinals are the top-ranked team in the preseason poll and hope to build on last year’s finish. They open the season with a three-game series against the University of Mississippi on Feb. 14.
Detmers will be key to the Cardinals’ success, serving as the ace of their pitching staff for the second consecutive year. Last year, Detmers tallied a 2.78 ERA and 167 strikeouts and allowed 33 walks and an opponent batting average of .177 in 113 1/3 innings.
“I think we just have to play the game and not worry about all the other things off to the side,” he said. “We just have to focus on the game, get hits, move guys over and throw strikes.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.