The Cincinnati Reds invited 2019 first round draft pick Nick Lodolo to Major League Spring this year, and in less than two weeks he will arrive in Goodyear, Arizona. Pitchers and catchers report on Thursday, February 13th. Earlier this week the Reds left-handed pitching prospect was on MLB Network Radio to talk and he spoke on a variety of things, but some of that revolved around what he was looking forward to in big league camp.

“Really just getting to pick everyone’s brain, whether it’s from (Reds starting pitcher Trevor) Bauer or to anyone on the whole staff. Guys have a wealth of knowledge. Especially working with DJ (Cincinnati pitching coach Derek Johnson). Just to learn from those guys as a whole, how to be a professional is mainly one of them, too. Not that I feel like I need help in that, but obviously those guys are there for a reason. That’s something I’d like to watch how they go about their business,” said Nick Lodolo when asked about what some of the things he was looking forward to during his time with the Cincinnati Reds big league team and staff this spring.

The Reds have been pretty good at extending big league spring training invites to their college first rounders and this isn’t much different. Organizations do this more so to get their top talent into the environment to be around Major Leaguers and the coaching staff more so than it is to have the opportunity to be playing for a job on the big league roster. While Lodolo was the top pitcher taken in the draft last season, and by all estimations advanced and should move quickly – there really isn’t a spot open for him on the roster to start the year. The rotation is full, and then some, and the team isn’t sliding him into the bullpen.

But what the Reds can do is get him into big league camp to see how guys like Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley, Anthony DeSclafani go about things as they prepare. It puts Nick Lodolo in a situation to work with Derek Johnson directly, even if only for a few weeks before he heads to the backfields to prepare as a minor league starting pitcher. The head start he will get on other minor leaguers that aren’t in big league camp shouldn’t be understated, either. Minor League camp won’t begin for a few weeks after big league camp does. That will give Lodolo, and others in big league camp who ultimately wind up in the minors to begin the year a few weeks head start in baseball activities over the guys not in big league camp.

25 Responses

  1. Norwood Nate

    I’m excited to see the results of what DJ and Lodolo work on. Hoping for a big season from Lodolo. Is the expectation that he goes to A+ or AA to start the year?

    • Oldtimer

      Jim O’Toole 1959. Gary Nolan 1967. Don Gullett 1970. They don’t do it often (Mike Leake recently) but the Reds used to fast track their best P to MLB.

      If SP needed mid year, I’m not surprised if Lodolo is a Red.

      • Norwood Nate

        I agree we could see Lodolo later this year. Even recently, Castillo made the jump mid-year from AA to ML.

      • Doug Gray

        The Reds pitching staff in 2017 when Castillo made it up, and the Reds pitching staff in 2020 are very different things. Opportunity was there back then. It’s probably not there this time.

      • MK

        If a lefty starter is needed Packy Naughton ,ight be the better mid-season choice for 2020.

      • Norwood Nate

        @Doug, absolutely we have a better pitching staff and less opportunity. There’s also probably a few guys ahead of him in the pecking order (Mahle, DeLeon, maybe Santillan/Vlad). And I hope that we see a run like in 2012 with our starters where everyone stays largely healthy.
        But even last year we had 12 starts made by guys out of our regular starters (7 by Woods, 4 by Sims, 1 by Gausman). In the hypothetical above it was in the case of injury (or even performance), and wasn’t necessarily meant to imply starting, as the bullpen is also in play toward the end of the season if we need an extra LH arm to make a playoff push. In my estimation, if Lodolo is having success in AA by midseason he may be in line for a call up, it wouldn’t surprise me.

      • Doug Gray

        Unless it’s a long-term injury, I’d be very surprised if Lodolo were called up as a starter for 2020. He’s not on the 40-man, and they aren’t going to put him on the 40-man to make three starts.

      • Oldtimer

        Reds projected 2020 SP. MLB numbers used. Baseball Reference projections used.

        Trevor Bauer 70-60 4.04 ERA career. 11-10 3.93 ERA projected.
        Luis Castillo 28-27 3.68 ERA career. 11-9 3.87 ERA projected.
        Anthony Desclafani 31-37 4.13 ERA career. 9-9 4.35 ERA projected.
        Sonny Gray 70-60 3.53 ERA career. 10-9 3.82 ERA projected.
        Tyler Mahle 11-23 4.88 ERA career. 6-10 4.83 ERA projected.
        Wade Miley 85-82 4.23 ERA career. 10-7 4.29 ERA projected.

        Projections mean little but those are the Baseball Reference projected results.

      • Doug Gray

        To be clear, those are the Marcels Projections, not the Baseball Reference projections. BR is simply hosting them.

      • Oldtimer

        Regardless the Reds have a solid 5 man SP rotation for 2020. Great, no. But very good if all stay healthy.

        The two best Reds teams of my lifetime (born 1951) each had six solid SP. Other NL Pennant winners (1961, 1970, 1972, and 1990) had five or six good SP.

  2. RedsKoolAidDrinker

    How much of a challenge is it for a right-handed pitching coach to work with a left-handed pitcher and vice-versa? Am I wrong to assume that the majority of the pitching coaches in MLB are right-handers.

    • Oldtimer

      Not sure if I know the answer but Larry Shepard (Reds P coach in 1970s) worked pretty well with Don Gullett, Ross Grimsley, and Fred Norman to name a few LHP.

  3. Haven

    I wonder if there is any way they mike leake this kid and he’s our fifth guy? Most likely no.

    • DaveCT

      Anything’s possible though I think this isn’t likely. I’d expect he’s heading for Hi-A, then AA, and if Miley is a big fail, or if we have a significant injury, we’ll see Mahle, Sims, DeLeon, Romano, or a vet stashed at AAA in the mix. At least at first. I can envision a mid season call-up if he gets really hot and we have a need on the ML staff. Not otherwise.

      • MK

        Leake didn’t have a half season in minors so they already haven’t.

      • Oldtimer

        If Lodolo isn’t a Red by 2021 it will be surprising. The very best P (Reds or otherwise) don’t linger in MiLB.

      • The Duke

        If Lodolo comes out and dominates in 2020, then the assumption would have to be the Reds don’t re-sign Bauer and Lodolo slots into that spot. Ideally, Bauer has a good year and declines a qualifying offer and the Reds get a good pick AND get the young blood to replace him.

        They might also need to replace Disco next year as well, but if he has been what he was last year, I could see him and the Reds coming together on a 2-3 year extension that is reasonable for both sides. Miley is here the next 2-3 years depending on if we pick up the option, so that’s Castillo, Gray, and Miley locked up for a bit.

  4. Optimist

    Unless they’ve got really exotic plans (7-man rotation/60 pitches-4 innings every 3 days) Lodolo has to be a traditional starter which keeps him in the minors all season. Perhaps he gets one of the Sept. callups if he is lights out, but expect Daytona/Chattanooga for this year.

    • The Duke

      If he looks lights out in the spring, I could see him starting in Chattanooga, but Daytona is the traditional starting spot for 1st rd college players first full season for the Reds.

  5. MK

    Off subject but I wonder if Mark Peyton is nursing some sort of injury. I watched the Texas Longhorns Alumni Game today. He was in the dugout and was interviewed but didn’t get into the game.

    • The Duke

      Was that on ESPN+? I got that this year with the Disney+ bundle and i’m pumped to be able to watch more college baseball this year. Given the depth of college arms in this years draft, odds are good the Reds will be taking one at 12 to add to Lodolo and Greene.

  6. SultanofSwaff

    Ideal scenario—-September callup, used as a bullpen weapon like Finnegan for KC or Wainright for St. Louis on their runs.

    • The Duke

      I doubt they put him on the 40 man unless they know he is starting the 2021 season in the bigs. They would have to add him to the 40 man early and that has it’s own risks if he runs into injury or performance issues. Now if the Reds are legit WS contenders, that might throw caution to the wind, but lets get to that point before getting ahead of ourselves on what was a 75 win team last year.

    • Oldtimer

      Remember only 28 man roster allowed in Sept 2020. 26 man roster until then. Very few call-ups in 2020.