As the 41st overall pick in the 2016 Draft, California high school left-hander Nick Lodolo had to move quickly through the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching ranks. Instead, Lodolo repelled the Pirates by refusing their offer and honoring his commitment to Texas Christian University. Betting on yourself to land even higher in a draft is a risky game for such a high pick, but you can say it worked for Lodolo.

By the time Lodolo was eligible for the draft again in 2019, he had established himself as the Horned Frogs’ staff ace and one of college baseball’s top pitchers. With a 2.36 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 103 innings in 16 starts, scouts were excited about Lodolo’s potential, and he became the first called pitcher in the class, placing seventh overall for the Reds. . Quickly signing a $ 5.4 million bonus, Lodolo got down to business and immediately left an impression on the Cincinnati brass by not conceding a goal on his first 18.1 professional innings.

Like most minor leaguers, the coronavirus pandemic wiped out Lodolo’s 2020 season, but he was assigned to the Cincinnati Alternative Development Camp and made good progress. The Reds had so much faith in Lodolo that they assigned him directly to Double-A to kick off the 2021 minor-league season, despite only two previous High-A starts in his career. Lodolo responded in kind with an ERA of 1.84 out of 10 Double-A starts. He’s been moved to Triple-A, where his 5.40 ERA doesn’t look pretty, but it’s on a small sample of 6.2 innings over three starts.

At first glance, the 6’6 ″ Lodolo screams a control artist, but he’s more than that. Lodolo has exceptional mastery of the strike zone, but also brings a ton of stuff with his throws. His fastball dances easily around the area, and his tall, lanky frame allows him to generate more speed on the court, regularly sitting at around 96 mph. His slider has qualities well above the average.

Sitting in the ’80s, Lodolo’s mastery on the pitch gives him less sweeping characteristic and more heavy bite, meaning he looks like a fastball for most of the delivery before quickly rushing into. a cursor. The Reds have spent most of Lodolo’s time at the alternate site working on his change, with promising results. Lodolo now matches the angle of his arm to that of his fastball, creating a good fading effect on the shift, while adding more consistency to the delivery of the fastball.

Cincinnati hasn’t had a real spinning ace since the early days of Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos in their bounties. While Trevor Bauer achieved ace-level results for the Reds in 2020, it was only in 11 starts. While Tyler Mahle turned out to be a nice surprise and Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo delivered decent results, the Reds are still feeling the pains of the lack of a consistent ace in their rotation for nearly a decade.

This is where Lodolo comes in. At just 23, Lodolo has a long career ahead of him, and he has already hit the triple A. The powerful southpaw with good mold control has proven to work well in the majors, Andy Pettitte believes. Lodolo’s control got him this far, but now he’s actively attacking hitters, constantly knocking them off balance. Lodolo is always adding strength to his frame, so he has the potential to increase his stock even more. Cincinnati’s bright future is about to come true, and when it finally arrives, Lodolo should be at the top of the table.

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