2. Nick Lodolo, Reds left-handed pitcher
Cincinnati took left-hander Nick Lodolo with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft with the intention of moving him quickly up the ladder of the team’s minor league system. Last year’s cancellation of the minor league season put a damper on that plan, but Lodolo will get the chance during Reds spring training to prove that he’s on track to make his MLB debut this season.
While the Cincinnati Reds lost Cy Young-winner Trevor Bauer and fellow starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani this offseason, the rotation appears to still be the best in the NL Central with Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray leading the charge. However, Wade Miley and Michael Lorenzen are both free agents after the 2021 season, which could create an opening for Lodolo.
Nick Lodolo brings something to the table that the Reds haven’t seen in sometime; a quality left-handed starter. Cincinnati’s rotation has been dominated by right-handed pitchers, and the recent acquisitions of Miley (2019) and Alex Wood (2018) haven’t panned out to well. Lodolo isn’t going to blow you away with his power, but the southpaw has good command and control of all his pitches.
I could see the Reds starting Lodolo’s 2021 season at Advanced-A Dayton, and if the left-hander shows he’s capable, they’ll quickly transition him to Double-A Chattanooga. It’s doubtful Cincinnati’s front office would choose to start Lodolo at Triple-A Louisville, but with the structure of the upcoming minor league schedule, he’d get an extra month at work if starts the season with the Bats.