After spending the 2020 campaign at the Reds alternate site, Cincinnati sent Nick Lodolo to Double-A Chattanooga to begin the season. The lefty could have hardly envisioned a better start the his first one as he struck out 10 batters and allowed just two hits – both singles – in 5.0 shutout innings without a walk. That gave him 40 strikeouts with a walk to begin his career.

That streak came to an end the next time out as he struggled with control for the first time in his professional career, walking four batters in just 3.1 innings while allowing just one run in 3.1 innings in Montgomery. Lodolo rebounded in a big way the next time out, putting together arguably his best start of his career. In Mississippi he allowed just one hit in 7.1 innings, walked one, and he struck out 11 without giving up a run. That game was followed up by another outstanding performance, a 7-inning, no run, eight strikeout game.

But it was the start on May 30th that began the problems that would plague the lefty the rest of the season. Lodolo was having a solid game against Tennessee, but he had developed a blister and was removed from the game. He would skip his next start and return two weeks later against Pensacola. The left-hander was dominating, having struck out seven batters through 3.1 innings, but the blister became an issue again and he was pulled from the start in the 4th inning. He would miss nearly a month before returning on July 6th against Tennessee, throwing just 2.0 innings as he eased back into things.

His next outing came in the Futures Game where he threw a perfect inning with a strikeout for the National League team. When he returned to Chattanooga his stay wouldn’t be very long. He’s throw 12.0 innings with 22 strikeouts and just three walks over the next three starts before he would be promoted to Triple-A Louisville at the start of August. His first time out saw him struggle against St. Paul, allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in 2.2 innings pitched.

Lodolo came back the next time out and allowed a run on four hits and a walk to go along with five strikeouts in 3.0 innings. His following start was skipped, but he returned on August 22nd against Gwinnett. He threw a perfect 1st inning with three strikeouts, but he didn’t return for the 2nd inning. That would wind up being his final appearance of the year as he was later put on the injured list with what was called shoulder fatigue and he’s miss the final month.

For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Nick Lodolo Scouting Report

Position: Left-handed pitcher | B/T: L/L

Height: 6′ 6″ | Weight: 205 lbs | Drafted: 1st Round, 2019

Born: February 5, 1998

Fastball | The pitch works in the 91-94 MPH range and will touch a bit higher at times.

Slider | A plus offering that works against both lefties and righties, it works in the low-to-mid 80’s.

Change Up |  A fringe-average offering that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s. It’s a clear third pitch that he doesn’t use nearly as often as his fastball or slider.

There was a lot to like about the 2021 season for Nick Lodolo, but there were some concerns as well. The biggest concern is that he was shut down at the end of the year with shoulder fatigue. It was not considered to be a serious issue, but anytime a pitcher is shut down with anything related to their arm it is something to at least put down on the notepad.

Nick Lodolo pounds the strikezone, but his control is ahead of his command. His low 3/4 arm angle and long limbs make for a different attack angle than many pitchers have and adds a little more deception to his stuff. In particular with his slider, it allows the pitch to really sweep across the zone.

The continued development of his change up will determine just how good he can be. With two above-average or plus offerings with the fastball and slider, an improved and more consistent change up could lead to a starter that’s more than a good middle of the rotation lefty.

Interesting Stat on Nick Lodolo

Left-handed hitters had 64 plate appearances against Nick Lodolo this season. They had just one extra-base hit – a home run in his first Triple-A start off of a 93 MPH fastball.

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31 Responses

  1. Alan Horn

    Lodolo is one to watch, but I don’t think he will be on the Reds early in the season. Let him start out fresh at AAA and see what happens. As it stands right now he has to master AAA.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    I think the floor is mid-rotation starter, assuming normal health and repertoire development. If he stumbles, he’ll go the Andrew Miller route, which wouldn’t be so bad.

    Speaking of top tier lefty starting pitching prospects, anyone think the Angels would give up Reid Detmers for Luis Castillo? They’re eager to upgrade their rotation.
    Should the Reds make that deal if offered? On the plus side Detmers arrival in the bigs would be identical to our top pitching prospects so it makes sense that way.

    • JaxDan

      I would try to get Brandon Marsh to go along with Detmers for Castillo even if the Reds had to add a player who would not be needed in 23 such as Garrett or Aquino.

      • Shawn

        That wouldn’t be near enough for Marsh and Dermers. I’m not even sure they would give up one of them

      • Optimist

        Who would the Halos give up? Seems they have money and prospects to deal.

      • Shawn

        I don’t think the Angels have enough prospect capital that they would be willing to give up to get Castillo. Maybe Gray?

      • Bourgeois Zee

        If the Angels won’t give up a young OF and a young SP for one of the top 10 SP in the game, the Reds can move him to a team who will. Castillo has two years of control left and a history of dominance.

        In 2022, Marsh (.254/ .317/ .356/ .673 in the MLB in a 70-game audition) projects to be around league average as a CF. Detmers (7.40 ERA in 20.2 innings and 5 starts), slightly less so as a SP.

        They’re fine as targets, and I certainly wouldn’t move Castillo for any less.

        Other teams looking for an ace should be offering up stuff too.

        For example, I could see asking for Mackenzie Gore and Hassell from San Diego. (Gore has fizzled despite a world of talent, and Hassell (while talented) is a long way from helping that team compete for a championship.

        Seattle might also be interested in a deal for Castillo. I could see DiPoto agree to a deal around the erstwhile Reds’ ace and Kyle Lewis (or perhaps Jared Kelenic and one of their young SP prospects.

    • JaxDan

      What are your thoughts on Gray being traded straight up for Hassell with SD or Matos plus a lottery player from SF?

      • Shawn

        Not Doug but Grey won’t get you Hassel. Not even close. May get you someone near the bottom of the top 100.

      • JaxDan

        @Shawn, I am sure you are probably correct about a trade for Detmers, Marsh or Hassell. With Castillo going to LAA I am basing this on Berrios going to Toronto for the 16th and 68th MLB prospects. I do not put much stock into Baseball Trade Values but this was giving a barometer of value. I can see Gray straight up for Matos who is the 77th top prospect.

      • Stock

        I am with you JaxDan. I think Gray would get you Matos in return. And he is in about the right spot in development with the rest of the prospects we have.

        I also agree with you that since we are not going to spend then we should blow it up and rebuild.

        Trade Gray, Castillo, Mahle and Winker. With the four of them you should get 2 top 50 players and 2 in the 51-100 range. Additionally you should be able to get 3-5 players what would place at the bottom of our top 25 – 30 prospects. Unless a pitcher it would be ideal that none of these players has reached AA yet.

      • Greenfield Red

        All of this is why I wanted 67-95 last year. They had no chance at the WS. Wouldn’t it be nice if all the trades came with picking in the top 5 rather than around 20th in the draft?

        Give me red hot or ice cold. Good is the enemy of great.

      • Doug Gray

        Eh. I’d rather they try every year to win as many games as they can.

      • Doug Gray

        A decade ago I would have agreed with you. Today, when half the league is trying the same plan makes it infinitely less likely to work for you. It makes it far less likely that you get the right draft pick or that you can land the right prospect in a trade (not to mention that teams by-and-large aren’t trading big time prospects anymore, either).

        At this point you’re just losing games for a scratch off lottery ticket instead of betting on the #4 team to beat the #1 team in college football.

    • LDS

      A lot of folks here seem to have adopted the rebuild mindset. Some good prospects but it would put the team at least a couple of years away from contending, would it not? In the meantime, Castellini and his cronies line their pockets.

      • Shawn

        If they ain’t going to spend they should rebuild. Standing pat shouldn’t be an option.

      • JaxDan

        @Shawn. I totally agree if they do notspendthen they needtostarttherebuild. I tend to think that the Reds traded Bruce, Chapman and Frazier a year later than they should have. I have no issue of Gray and Castillo being on the market but I would like to see Winker and Mahle signed to team friendly deals but only on a 3 year contract. The Reds have to get an OFer like Hassell, Dominguez, Matos, Ramos, Duran, Pache or Pages in the top 100. They also need a SP in the top 100. If a trade with Boston I would love to see Casas. If the Reds cannot get quality this off-season then I hope they do not trade until the trade deadline giving Greene, Ashcraft and Lodolo more time

      • SteveLV

        I agree with the trade Castillo, Gray comments, although I’m not sure I’d call it a rebuild.
        By 2024, they have a core of inexpensive, controllable talent and the expensive contracts will all be gone. They theoretically could have competed in 22 and 23, but they clearly aren’t going to spend the money it takes to do so.
        I have very little interest in mediocre. There is value in both Castillo’s and Gray’s contracts. Keeping them and using that value to try to win 80 games instead of 73 in the next 2 years makes no sense to me. Trade them and stockpile talent for a real push in ‘24.
        Better yet, extend Castillo and trade Gray. I’d love to see them extend Mahle, Winker, too. But please don’t burn through this group for the next 2 years and then let them leave while burning through the Moose, Akiyama, Votto contracts.

      • LDS

        Conceptually, I agree. However, nothing this ownership group or the team management has done convinced me they are capable of maximizing return. Barnhart and Miley are perfect examples. They dumped $17m+ in salary for a 24 year old guy that’s still stuck in the low minors with a sub-.200 average. He’ll likely never reach the majors. Do you trust these guys to actually move Castillo and Gray?

  3. BK

    What is it about Lodolo’s fastball that makes it a plus or potential plus picth? His velocity seems to be average for today’s pitchers. Is there movement, deception or something else? Frankly, reading this scouting report I see a pitcher with one plus pitch and and one average pitch…nothing too noteworthy.

    • BK

      To be clear, definitely not criticizing Doug’s scouting report! They are consistently outstanding! Just wondering if my expectations for Lodolo were unrealistic.

    • Doug Gray

      Lefties don’t throw as hard as righties, so you need to adjust that “average” down a 1-1.5 MPH. There were 44 LHP that threw 100 or more innings in 2021. 10 of them averaged 94 MPH or better. 21 of them averaged under 92. From a sheer velocity standpoint, as a starter for a lefty, if you average 92 or better, you’ve got slightly above-average velo. But it’s not just velo, being able to locate the pitch plays, the spin rate is above-average, and he can hit 97 with it, too (did so in the Futures Game).

  4. DaveCT

    I understand Lodolo has a higher floor than most as a polished college arm. But he still only has 70 or professional innings (plus his time at the alt site in 2020). Plus he’s got to prove he’s healthy. I’m thinking a solid experience at AAA is required and we might not see him up until August.

    • Doug Gray

      When you’re ready, you’re ready. Luis Castillo had 0 Triple-A innings when he stepped into the bigs and he was good from the start. Now, he did have more minor league innings, but that’s to be expected given their roads from signing a pro contract, too.

      • DaveCT

        That’s true in both instances. I remain concerned about innings but perhaps I shouldn’t be. I think one wild card here is what will heretofore be known as the India Effect. Meaning, Jonathon’s development took off like an F-16 not in spite if but likely because of his efforts at the alternate site. So, if there was similar development with Lodolo, perhaps we’ll see him in essence skip a year of MiLB games. And thus, Doug, I gave created more work for you, researching snd documenting this.

  5. RedsGettingBetter

    Lodolo has a lot of talent so when he’s been healthy becomes almost untouchable but in my opinion, the shoulder fatigue after just 50 innings pitched is to be if not worried at least warned

  6. Mark

    Let compare Aroldis Chapman’s trajectory to Nick Lodolo’s . Chapman age 21 year started 13 games and pitched 95 total innings between Louisville and finishing the year in Cincinnati. Lodolo this past year between AA and AAA at age 23 had 13 starts between both leagues and pitch a total of 50 innings before being shut down. Lodolo’s age 22 year was in the alternate site and no stats are available for that year. Looking over the last 3 minor leagues years of available stats I don’t see any indications that Lodolo is going to be a frequent starting MLB pitcher. Hope I am wrong but if Chapman, Rasel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzon were not good enough to be starter for the Reds I highly doubt Lodolo will be a regular starting pitcher for the Reds.

    Remember Raisel Iglesias 1st 3 ML starts for the Cincinnati Reds he struck out 10 plus baters in each of his 1st 3 ML starts. Still a Reds record for rookies. He was deemed by Reds management to be a reliever instead of the more valuable commodity of Starting pitcher. Hope I am wrong but Lodolo will be a bullpen guy whenever he is not on the DL.

    • Doug Gray

      There is no comparison. In 2019, Lodolo pitched 100+ innings in college. In 2020 there was no season. In 2021 he dealt with two issues – one was an injury, one was not. You’re reaching here.

      And just to be clear: Iglesias was deemed by the Reds medical staff as not being able to handle the starting pitcher workload and was thus put into the bullpen.