Reds news: Nick Lodolo’s continued domination warrants promotion

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Nick Lodolo #86 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning during an exhibition game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Nick Lodolo #86 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the first inning during an exhibition game. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds selected Nick Lodolo with the seventh-overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft knowing that he’d be a fast learner. Despite not playing minor league ball in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the team’s No. 1 prospect is dominating opponents in the Double-A and is in line for a promotion.

Last night, Lodolo went 7.1 innings, striking out 11 batters while only allowing one hit. The performance lowered the left-hander’s ERA to an astounding 0.54. Both Lodolo and fellow top prospect Hunter Greene look like the future of the Reds rotation.

Reds top prospect Nick Lodolo deserves a promotion to Triple-A.

Normally, you’d like to see slow and steady development from your pitchers as they ascend the minor league ladder with their eyes fixed on making it to the big leagues. But what Lodolo has done in his three starts warrants a promotion to Triple-A so that the southpaw can face the best of the best before his eventual ascension to the Reds roster.

While Lodolo had success last night against the likes of Shea Langeliers and Braden Shewmake, both of whom are Top 5 prospects in the Atlanta Braves farm system, a promotion to Triple-A Louisville would allow the lefty to pitch to some of the top minor league talent and fringe major leaguers.

Currently, the Louisville Bats are home to two of the Cincinnati Reds top pitching prospects; both of whom may be called up to the big leagues in the coming weeks. Vladimir Gutierrez and Tony Santillan have pitched well for Triple-A Louisville this season, and with Jeff Hoffman’s struggles and Michael Lorenzen’s absence, we could see either right-hander make his major league debut very soon.

Don’t look for Nick Lodolo to make his Reds debut this season.

While we did see a bit of anomaly last year when shortstop José García made his major league debut without even playing Double-A ball, it’s doubtful Nick Krall and the Cincinnati Reds front office go the same route with Nick Lodolo. The 23-year-old has a bright future, but outside of a September call-up, it’s hard to envision Lodolo seeing the big league field in 2021.

Next season, however, provided Lodolo’s minor league experience continues to trend in the right direction, there’s a really good chance that both Lodolo and Greene find their way into the Reds rotation.

There’s a lot of uncertainty within the Cincinnati organization at this moment. Luis Castillo has not pitched well, though his last start was much better. Wade Miley has a $10M team option, that may or may not get picked up. And, Michael Lorenzen is a free agent.

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One thing is certain, if Nick Lodolo continues to punish hitters at the Double-A level, Cincinnati’s decision makers will have no choice but to elevate their No. 1 prospect to Triple-A very soon. On the season, Lodolo has 24 Ks in 15.2 innings of work and has only allowed eight total hits. It’s been a long time since the Reds had a dominant lefty in the rotation, perhaps Lodolo is the answer.