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.

10 Responses

  1. Tom

    Gives an exciting edge to the season coming up. If any one of these top 3 prospects pushes the envelope they could break camp with the Reds next season this time of year, if not force their way into the majors this year. From a timeline perspective the Reds will have huge roster flexibility next offseason if all three of these players, or even just one of them, really hits their ceiling.
    That said, AA will be a true test for all three and results are far from guaranteed.
    Doug do you see yourself road tripping to Chattanooga?

    • Doug Gray

      I’m certainly in a wait and see mode when it comes to traveling at this point. Without getting into a ton of details, I do have several medical conditions that put me at higher risk for all of this. While I’m going to be full vaccinated here shortly, because of my other medical conditions I probably need to focus more on the variants that are out there and how the vaccinations are holding up against them than a typical person. This is more of a “staying overnight” kind of thing where I’d have to be doing a bit more interacting with people and in common, indoor spaces.

      I’d certainly love to be able to get to Chattanooga 10 times this year…. but it’s definitely on the “wait-and-see” list right now, unfortunately.

  2. Doc

    Garcia to AA seems right to me. It is the next logical step from Advanced A, where he was not exactly an offensive juggernaut. He performed miserably in the majors offensively and showed nothing to support opinions that he is ready for either the majors or AAA. Kyle Holder was returned to the Yankees, probably because he was all glove, no offense. That also describes Garcia at this point. Games are not won by non-performing high potential, they are won by performance, no matter what the potential was deemed to be.

    • Doug Gray

      In theory, yes, it’s the next logical step. But let’s pump the brakes a little bit, too. He posted a 131 OPS+ in Daytona in 2019. That’s a better OPS+ than Nick Castellanos – a pretty good hitter – has ever posted at the big league level. He wasn’t Mike Trout OPS+ in Daytona, but he was very good there. The league itself is just so pitcher friendly that if you don’t adjust for it and only look at the raw numbers it doesn’t quite feel as good as it actually was.

      But this “next step” also ignores that 2020 happened for Garcia and he basically played in AAA and MLB last year for three months between “summer camp”, the alternate site, and the Majors down the stretch.

      I don’t have an issue with starting him in Double-A, but I also thought he’d go to Triple-A given the competition that he did face last year – even if he did struggle in the Majors.

      • Doc

        Reasonable analysis, with one caveat: it’s not just about the competition you face, it’s about how you perform against that competition. He did not perform effectively, and nothing he did in ST suggests that 2020 performance was an anomaly.

      • Doug Gray

        Reports were that he performed well at Prasco. Spring training was like 15 at bats spread out over three weeks – it’s entirely meaningless data.

  3. Shawn

    Any guesses on who else will be on the team? Lyon Richardson?

    • Doug Gray

      At some point tonight I’m going to sit down with the spring roster and try to put together starting lineups and rotations for each team. It’ll make it’s way to Patreon and then here in the next few days.