While Major League Baseball and the owners quibble over dollars and cents, and perhaps nonsense, Cincinnati Reds fans can be sure of one thing; the minor league season will begin as scheduled. After the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the 2020 season, it was fantastic to see minor league baseball return last season.
Still, it felt as though there was a lot we didn't know about several of the Reds top prospects. I don't know about you, but I hadn't heard about Elly De La Cruz until the then-19-year-old broke onto the scene with an .847 OPS in his first professional action outside the Dominican Summer League.
Looking ahead to the 2022 season, there are a lot of talented, young players in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. Who's going to make the major league debut? Who may be dealt prior to the season or at the July trade deadline? It's time to make some predictions.
1. Reds pitching prospect Nick Lodolo debuts before Hunter Greene.
Book it! While both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo will both find their way onto the MLB diamond in 2022, I believe the southpaw will out-duel the flamethrower in spring camp and make his major league debut first.
No, I don't think this has anything to do with service time manipulation. Hopefully the owners and the Players Association figure that out during the upcoming CBA negotiations. This boils down to who is better equipped for the big leagues.
While Greene may have the higher ceiling, the higher floor belongs to Lodolo. The lefty is a reliable starter with an advanced feel for the game. Cincinnati sat back during the 2019 MLB Draft, and while every other team selected a position player, the Reds allowed the game's best pitching prospect to fall into their lap.
While Hunter Greene wowed the crowds in both Chattanooga and Louisville last season with his 100-plus fastball, let's not forget the numbers that Nick Lodolo posted while making stops at both Double and Triple-A as well.
Lodolo, who suffered through some minor injuries in 2021, went 50.2 innings in 13 starts and posted a 2.31 ERA. The southpaw put up a ridiculous 38.8% strikeout-rate and a pristine 5.5% walk-rate while punching out 78 batters. Lodolo recorded six or more strikeouts in eight of his 13 starts last season.
Hunter Greene is electric, and the former first-rounder has the potential to be the ace of the Cincinnati Reds staff. However, Nick Lodolo is former first-round selection himself, and his arsenal is a bit more polished than the Reds No. 1 overall prospect.