Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo are the Cincinnati Reds top two pitching prospects. Depending on where you look or who you ask you may get a different answer as to who ranks ahead of who, but those are the two top pitchers in the farm system. On Tuesday night they pitched back-to-back innings against the Los Angeles Angels on MLB Network.
While Greene got the start, Lodolo came out of the bullpen for inning number two. He struck out former Reds outfielder Scott Schebler to begin his outing. Anthony Bemboom – what an awesome name – followed up with a ground out to first base. From there, though, he ran into a few issues with his control as he walked David Fletcher and then hit Jon Jay. But with two runners on he buckled down and got Jose Iglesias to fly out to shallow center to end the inning. While the lefty didn’t sit triple-digits like Greene did before him, Lodolo was sitting around 94 on the stadium radar during his inning of work.
“I thought he was very good,” said catcher Tucker Barnhart. “I got a chance to catch him in summer camp or spring training 2.0 – whatever you want to call it – against the Tigers. I think I caught one bullpen in regular spring training and that was the first time I ever caught him and then tonight was probably the third time. Commanded his fastball pretty well. Just kind of lost a little bit of focus there with the 4-pitch walk, but was able to get back under control. I thought he threw really well. He’s another guy who’s going to help us very soon and I’m excited for it.”
For Nick Lodolo, it was great to just get back out on the mound again. Last season he participated in spring training with the big league club, and was back for summer camp before the season began – but once the season started he was at the alternate training site pitching in non-games.
“It felt good to get back out there in a real game environment since summer camp in Cincy last year,” Lodolo said. “It felt good to get out there and overall I felt pretty good.”
While there wasn’t quite a game environment at Prasco Park last year, the time and work there was quite beneficial for Nick Lodolo. He felt that it was helpful being around big leaguers and getting some individual coaching sessions with now big league assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers.
“Yeah, it definitely helped,” said Lodolo. “But in a way I felt like being at Prasco with Jags (assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers) and other guys around there – just being around big leaguers, there are strides and other things you can’t simulate in a minor league season – just being around big leaguers the whole time and going about your day that way, but definitely, being able to pitch last year and not sitting at home, 100% (it helped).”
One of the things on the scouting report that worked against Nick Lodolo when he was coming out of college was that his change up was below-average and that he didn’t throw it much in college while at TCU. That was one of the things he really worked on with his time during 2020.
“I feel like I needed to develop (it), along with other things,” said Lodolo. “But that’s something I hit hard on last year at Prasco and I feel like it’s gotten a lot better from where it has been, from when I was drafted. Not there yet, obviously, gotta keep going and still working on it. But big strides from last year to this year with that pitch.”
The change up improvement could be the thing that accelerates Nick Lodolo’s timeline to the big leagues. Manager David Bell liked what he saw on Tuesday night and thinks it’s possible that it may not be long before the lefty is in Cincinnati with the Reds.
“He was good,” said Bell. “He had a scoreless inning. He’s getting more and more comfortable. Another guy we’re really lucky to have. Could be super close to the big leagues and helping us out, but we’ll have to see where he is. He didn’t get to compete in a real full season last year, but we’ll see where he is. But I think that was a good step for Nick, and each time he goes out it’s one more outing he can learn from, get better, experience pitching in a Major League spring training game, so it was a good night.”