Cincinnati Reds: Three dark horse candidates to make the taxi squad

MESA, AZ - OCTOBER 14: Tyler Stephenson #36 of the Glendale Desert Dogs (Cincinnati Reds) (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - OCTOBER 14: Tyler Stephenson #36 of the Glendale Desert Dogs (Cincinnati Reds) (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 04: A baseball sits on the mound before the game between the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images) /

3. Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati Reds No. 1 prospect

No way! There’s no way that Nick Lodolo makes the taxi squad, right? Don’t be so sure. Last year’s No. 7 overall draft pick was thought to have had a chance to make his major league debut during September. While I think a bullpen role in 2020 might be more up his alley, if the Reds are in contention, having Lodolo on the field for a playoff push would be a huge boost.

Nick Lodolo was the Reds first-round pick last June. After a stellar career at Texas Christian University, Lodolo spent the 2019 season pitching in 18.1 innings for the Billings Mustangs and the Dayton Dragons. In eight games, Lodolo struck out 30 and didn’t walk a single batter.

Now, the jump from Single-A to the majors is tremendous, which is why I would never advocate for Lodolo to be put in as a starter. However, a quality left-handed reliever outside of Amir Garrett is not a viable option for the Reds in 2020. Lodolo could fill that role and not be overexposed.

Starting Lodolo’s service time clock so soon seems like a risk, but with the Reds starting rotation beyond 2020 up in the air, it’s possible that Lodolo was going to be put in position to claim a spot anyway. Both Anthony DeSclafani and Trevor Bauer will be free agents next winter, and with the current financial constraints, it seems likely that both will not be back in 2021.

Next. Reds options for DH in 2020

All three players mentioned are dark horse candidates to make the Cincinnati Reds taxi squad, but there’s so many unknowns going forward, thinking outside the box may be necessary to compete in a shortened-season. Which unexpected addition would you most like to see in 2020?