MLB Pipeline is gearing up for their 2020 Top 100 Prospect list, which will come out January 25th. As a build up to that list, the crew of Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis have been releasing their top 10’s by positions, and when they looked at the left-handed pitchers they ranked Nick Lodolo as the #5 prospect among all lefties in the minors.

Nick Lodolo got the top nod among the group in both the best control category and the highest floor category. Being listed as the left-handed pitcher with the best control isn’t much of a surprise. In his junior season with TCU he walked 25 batters, and after being drafted he walked no one. That gives him 25 walks after facing 492 batters in 2019 – that’s a 5.1% walk rate.

Having the kind of control is one of the reasons he’s also got the highest floor. The ability to throw strikes is a big part of having a high floor because you can’t get to the Majors without it in most cases. But that’s only a part of what Nick Lodolo has that gives him that high floor. The stuff is above-average to plus, too. He’s a pitcher, not just a thrower. He knows how to attack hitters, how to mix his pitches, how to set guys up. That’s why he’s got the high floor. That’s why he’s believed to be a guy who can reach the Major Leagues in a very quick manner.

ZiPS on the Prospects

Dan Szymborski released the ZiPS projections for the 2020 season over at Fangraphs on Tuesday. For the Reds specifically, they actually look pretty good. The improvement over last year is huge. As I wrote over at Redleg Nation, there were some good projections and a few that weren’t so good. What wasn’t really touched upon there is the prospects, since it’s not expected that many are going to be a factor for the Reds during the season. Among the Top 25 Reds prospects only three of them were in Triple-A last season – Jose Siri – who struggled in his month with the Bats, Vladimir Gutierrez – who also struggled in Louisville, and Joel Kuhnel.

ZiPS thinks that Joel Kuhnel will be a little better than league average when it comes to ERA, projecting him for a 106 ERA+ and a 4.11 ERA on the season. Among the prospects, that’s the best projection from the pitching side of things. When it comes to the position guys it’s Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson at the top of the projections for the prospects – but the system doesn’t exactly have either as doing much at the plate in 2020. ZiPS projects them to hit .228/.316/.377 (India) and .229/.303/.355 (Stephenson) on the year. Mark Payton, the Rule 5 pick by the Reds is projected for a .255/.315/.449 line and 0.9 WAR on the season.

Historically speaking, ZiPS and other projection systems don’t have great outlooks for guys who have never been in the Major Leagues before. The rare exceptions are when guys are seemingly other worldly talents who are both incredibly young and incredibly dominant in the upper minor leagues. Take Gavin Lux for example – last season he hit .347/.421/.607 in Double-A and Triple-A as a 21-year-old. He spent a month in the Majors and posted a .705 OPS. He’s among the best prospects in the game. Lux is Major League ready right now and has destroyed Triple-A. He’s projected to hit .267/.331/.456. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, especially from a young middle infielder. But it’s just an example to show that until you’ve done it in the Major Leagues, projection systems are rarely going to have a prospect show up and immediately beat up on Major Leaguers.

13 Responses

  1. Eddie P.

    Now, I have played a lot of baseball, watched a lot of baseball, and studied a lot of baseball. Safe to say I know the game through and through. Let me tell everyone this- Lodolo is going to be a solid major league pitcher. No doubt in my mind. Hopefully everyone worried about the farm system can breath a little bit easier now that they have my take on Lodolo.

    I will try and remember to give my breakdown on all of the Reds mention in the MLB articles.

  2. Tom

    Heard on the Locked on Reds podcast that people close to the Reds consider Lodolo nearly untouchable. I was pleased to hear that. With the new development program in place, what better player than a polished college LHSP with a high floor for them to deliver nice and neatly to the 3rd spot in the rotation after Bauer or Disco leave?

  3. Oldtimer

    (Hoping) Lodolo excels in AA and AAA in 2020, then makes the Reds rotation in ST 2021.

    With the new roster rules (26) only two spots are open in September. Only 28 allowed on MLB active roster as I understand it.

  4. Billy

    So MLB posted its top 10 catching prospects, and Tyler Stephenson didn’t crack the list. It wasn’t a mistake because he was listed as one to keep an eye on.

    Seems odd to me. I’d think he’d be pretty high on that list and he’s trending up. Am I wrong?

    • Doug Gray

      I expected him to make it, but he didn’t. My guess is that he’ll either miss their Top 100, or be somewhere in that 90-100 range.

    • doofus

      T Stephenson was on and off the list last season. MLB updates the list at the 1/2 way mark, after the June draft, when players are called up, etc. He was usually 9th or 10th when he was listed.

      • Oldtimer

        At the bottom of article:

        Keep an eye on: Tyler Stephenson, Reds
        The 2015 first-round pick was plagued by injuries during the first stages of his career, but he’s shown plenty of potential when healthy and began to put it all together in 2018. After a solid regular season in Double-A (.285/.372/.410), the 23-year-old backstop had a very strong AFL campaign (.347/.372/.410 in 49 at-bats) to earn a spot on the 40-man roster.

      • Billy

        Yeah, but he was a riser in the second half of the season and had a great AFL too. I expected him to climb some. I mean, Fangraphs had him at 5 for catchers at their mid-year update. I figured he’d at least be in that range at this point.

  5. Simon Cowell

    Its kind of hard to believe this considering how little time he has played. The words best and top-ranked are a bit overused at this point.

    Safe to say he is our best pitching prospect with the potential to play in 2020 is fairly safe. Unless of course, Hunter Greene receives a miracle.

  6. CP

    Very hopeful Lodolo has a healthy and productive year this year. As long as he plays the 2nd half of the year in AA or higher this year, he should have a good chance to crack the 2021 rotation. With Disco, Miley & Bauer all on the last year of their control he will be needed.

    I’m also really pulling for Greene. He played a good amount at low A Dayton already, so I hope they put him with Lodolo at High A to start the year. If would be fun to watch them both ascend the minors together next year!

    Two in house SP developments like those two guys are what extends playoff windows for organizations. Really hoping this year is the start to a good long window of being in the playoffs every year!!

    • CP

      Correct, Miley is under control for a couple years, but they do still need to potentially replace Bauer/Disco. With Mahle in place and Lodolo/Greene to compete, that puts the Reds in a very enviable position to restock their rotation completely in house. They will likely sign another MLB proven starter on a 1 year deal to not have to push Lodolo, but he could very well be ready.

      • Oldtimer

        Mahle has potential as 4/5 SP to replace Miley or Desclafani. So far his MLB results have been mediocre, at best. His MiLB results were better.

        Either Lodo or a healthy, recovered Green is a potential 1/2 SP (ace).