2020 MLB Draft Player Profile: Reid Detmers

While three of the four major mock drafts posted last week sent North Carolina State University catcher Patrick Bailey to the White Sox with the 11th pick, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel went a different route. In his vision, he saw at least a couple arms in the draft’s highly touted collegiate pitching draft get past the top 10, and he assigned one of them to the White Sox.

That pitcher is Louisville lefty Reid Detmers. He’s the consensus No. 8 prospect in the draft, at least according to the rankings from MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and Keith Law, and you can learn about him below.


After spending three years at Nokomis High School in Central Illinois, Reid Detmers finished his prep career at Chatham Glenwood High outside of Springfield. Ranked third in Perfect Game’s Top Illinois Prep Players, Detmers was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 32nd round in 2017 but opted to play for coach Dan McDonnell at Louisville. 

Detmers’ freshman season was a bumpy road. Appearing in 18 games and making eight starts, Detmers finished the 2018 season with a 4.85 ERA, racking up 69 strikeouts to 34 walks in 55⅔ innings. That summer, Detmers pitched in his lone Cape Cod season. He made six starts, posting a 4.55 ERA with 29 strikeouts to seven walks. Home runs were an issue, as he allowed seven dingers in just 27.2 innings.

When scouting college players you always want to see leaps taken each year. Detmers made a giant one in 2019, so much so, he earned my vote for the NCBWA Pitcher of the Year. Over 113⅓ innings, he cut down his ERA to 2.78 with an impressive 167 strikeouts, a Louisville school record. Reaching the College World Series, Detmers made one start in a loss to eventual national champion Vanderbilt. Detmers struggled with his command, walking six in 5.2 innings in a 3-1 loss. After the College World Series, Detmers played for Team USA. In his three starts spanning 13 innings, Detmers did allow seven walks to just ten strikeouts. However, he only allowed one earned run on five hits.

Detmers was on a fast start to 2020 in his aim to return to Omaha. In his first four starts, Detmers had a whopping 48 strikeouts to just six walks in 22 innings. Even more impressive is that Detmers only allowed 16 hits with a 1.23 ERA. Unfortunately, it all culminated in another what-could-have-been season lost thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic. 


As we approach draft day, the top college pitching prospects are Asa Lacy, Emerson Hancock, Max Meyer, Cade Cavalli and Detmers. The order varies based on who you ask. The other starting pitchers feature 60+ grade fastballs that reach velocities of 96 mph or higher. On a good day, Detmers sits at 92 to 93 mph, which is 45 to 50 grade (the average MLB fastball velocity in 2019 was 93.3 mph). 

Yet, when you compare college career strikeout rates, Detmers bests them. 

Pitcher (College Career)K/9BB/9
Reid Detmers13.43.4
Asa Lacy13.34
Max Meyer11.52.5
Cade Cavalli10.14.7
Emerson Hancock9.72.6

While the others stand out with their radar gun readings, Detmers distinguishes himself with excellent command and the best curveball in this draft class. 


Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs nicknames Detmers curveball “Hell’s Rainbow.” Even though the pitch is at a pedestrian mid-70’s mph, college hitters have a terrible time against it. Watching the film, you see hitters either give up as the ball is mid-flight or helplessly make a last-second swing to foul it off. 

What I like about the pitch is it comes in a couple of variations. The most visually satisfying is when Detmers aims above the strike zone only to watch it fall on target. Some scouts and college coaches wonder if this pitch will have success in the majors because it doesn’t tunnel well with his fastball. 

Chris Fetter is the pitching coach at Michigan and considered one of the most progressive minds today when it comes to the art of pitching. I’m secretly hoping the White Sox hire him when Don Cooper calls it quits. I recommend reading the entire Twitter thread as there is excellent insight from MLB pitchers like Miles Mikolas. It’s excellent baseball fodder from those trying to figure out why this pitch is so successful. The result is agreeing that in a 0-0 count, if Detmers can maintain his consistent command with the curve, he could steal strikes early in the count. 

The second variation that I’ve seen more frequently has a chance to tunnel better with his fastball. Detmers is aiming for the curve to spike out of the zone, typically against right-handed hitters. The curveball is paired with the fastball to pin hitters on the inside corner. Giving an extra layer of deception and is effective with two strikes in the count against hitters itching to make contact. 


Detmers makes up for lack of fastball velocity with pinpoint command. Having to survive painting both corners, Detmers has established the ability to make it seem routine in hitting his targets. When Detmers runs into trouble, he’s missing in the middle of the zone. As any fan will tell you, 90 mph fastballs down the pipe tend to fly a long way. Continuing to display a 60+ grade command will be a focal point determining Detmers’ success professionally. 

Third Pitch

In college, Detmers has mostly stuck with his fastball/curve combo. Moving forward, he’ll need to find a dependable third pitch. There were games that Detmers flashed a slider and a changeup, so an argument can be made he has a four-pitch mix. Against left-handers, the slider is a pure wipeout pitch that had little chance of being in the strike zone. The changeup has some sink to it, and when thrown to right-handers on the outside corner, Detmers can generate some grounders to bail him out when runners are on. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching the White Sox for so long, but I wonder if Detmers can learn the cutter. A mid-80’s cutter could help get inside on right-handers, or he could use it like his outside-corner fastballs with a bit more horizontal break. If the cutter is not an option, I like the changeup more than the slider. 


If Reid Detmers were to fall to the White Sox at Pick 11, they should take him without hesitation. The current farm system state is short on dependable starting pitching thanks to injuries and development woes. While he’ll never impress you with radar readings, Detmers understands the art of pitching. His command is top-notch, and if he can avoid injuries, Detmers could be ready for the majors late 2022/early 2023.

(Photo by Kevin Schultz/CSM)

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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Definitely hoping the Sox go college arm. Build a stable of future pitching talent. The Bailey pick to me feels very blah, limited upside. They dont really have a shortage of catching for the first part of their window, grandal is going to be around and even if McCann walks after 2020 I would hope some formula of Collins, Mercedes, even Zavala can figure it out. Plus its not like signing a backup catcher is gonna cost you an arm and a leg.


Those 3 guys imo can more then hold the fort down as Grandal likely takes 120-130 starts a year behind the plate. Especially now that at most 2020 the first year of his contract will have him only catching 60-65 games. A nice recovery year for a catcher on a 4 year deal. We aren’t flush with catching depth but I think we are in better shape then most organizations. Who is to say round 2-5 can’t address Catcher a bit. If I have a mid rotation starting lefty upside vs maybe 90% of matt weiters upside I take the arm, especially considering who I have already under contract.

lil jimmy

Once McCann is gone, Collins will back up Grandal for the next three years. That’s just the way it’s going to be.


IMO, with the idea of robot umps likely becoming a thing, Collins/Mercedes etc will be able to take on more of starting role. That’s why I think taking a catcher like Bailey wouldn’t be a great thing. Though, no one knows when robot umps will be a thing.


I wish I could think of a less douchey way to describe it, but it’s almost like framing futures. I guess it assumes that framing is properly valued in the draft now, but maybe there’s a draft in the near future where it’s clear the FOs know that framing will have zero value within a couple years.


I just don’t trust those low velocities for a pick as early as he’s projected. His walk rates don’t look like pinpoint control to me and he doesn’t really have a third pitch. I see a #4 starter in the big leagues who’s pretty good every third game and gets walloped every third game.

lil jimmy

the reason he struggled as a freshman was because nobody ever hit him in high school. You can see how he would overwhelm a kid in southern Illinois. At Louisville, the competition is a huge leap up. The fact that he upped his game to dominate is a credit to him. He’s a solid #3 starter. A great value if he can be had at #11.


Wifflesque. It’s the greatest compliment in my power to give.