While minor league spring training is just now getting started for many players, it started for some guys back in mid-to-late February at “early minor league camp” that featured some prospects that were likely to see some action in big league games during the spring. A few of those guys that showed up for early minor league camp look like they are heading to Double-A Chattanooga.
Nick Krall joined John Sadak and Barry Larkin in the 3rd inning for the Cincinnati Reds game on Bally Sports on Tuesday night. The general manager for Cincinnati said that he expects Jose Garcia, Nick Lodolo, and Hunter Greene to all begin the year in Double-A. That sound you just heard in the distance was all of the Chattanooga Lookouts fans shouting with joy.
Jose Garcia saw some action with the Reds last season. He struggled, mightily, at the plate. Garcia was strong in the field, but he was clearly overmatched in the batters box. Nothing surprising there, really, as Garcia had not played above Advanced-A other than about five weeks at the alternate site in 2021 – which should be considered higher than Advanced-A given the players that were there. His assignment to Double-A, assuming that is where he winds up (sometimes these things change – if he shows very well at the alternate site in Louisville where he’s currently at, maybe plans change), is a lower than I honestly would have expected. My gut would have been he was starting in Louisville at the Triple-A level.
While Garcia is at the alternate site and playing in some games against other alternate site squads, both Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene stayed back in Goodyear to continue their spring training with the rest of the minor leaguers. Greene reached back and hit 105 MPH in his last spring training outing, just in case you wanted to drop your jaw for a second. He’s going to be making his first start in a game that counts in the standings for the first time in nearly three years when he takes the mound when the season begins. That said, he did pitch in the alternate site last year, and in one big league game this spring – so he’s been on the mound and faced good competition in the last nine months.
Nick Lodolo, like Hunter Greene, spent last summer at the Reds alternate site pitching, but didn’t reach the Major Leagues. The lefty last pitched in Dayton in 2019, but after a long college season earlier in the year he was limited to just a handful of innings following the draft before he was shut down. In his time between Billings and Dayton he threw 18.1 innings with no walks, just one home run allowed, and he struck out 30 batters while posting a 2.45 ERA.
The assignment of both of the pitchers isn’t too surprising. There was a chance that you could probably push Lodolo to Triple-A given his experience in college and the alternate site, but it would still be a rather aggressive jump.
For Hunter Greene, Double-A feels right on target. He last pitched in Dayton. In July. Of 2018. He did get time at the alternate site, which as said above is a big step up in competition given the players who were there – but it was about eight weeks of baseball, too. Let’s just assume he threw 50 innings total there, that still means we’re talking about a pitcher who has about 125 innings in his career on the mound since he graduated high school. He’s got elite stuff, but he also has missed out on a lot of development, too. Double-A is the level where hitters chase less and they’ve seen enough quality stuff in their time that they can make a pitcher work for it.