Will Graham Ashcraft beat out Nick Lodolo for a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster?

Cincinnati Reds Graham Ashcraft (95) poses during media day.
Cincinnati Reds Graham Ashcraft (95) poses during media day. / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Reds extended a non-roster invite to spring training to two of their top prospects. Both Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft will be in Goodyear this spring and have a chance to break camp with the big league club. But who holds the advantage?

A lot will depend on whether or not the Reds trade one of their three starters once the MLB lockout is over. Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sonny Gray all figure to be on the Reds Opening Day roster, but all three have been the subject of trade speculation all offseason.

Which Reds prospect is more likely to make the Opening Day roster?

The Cincinnati Reds will have a bevy of pitchers vying for a spot on the team's Opening Day roster. In addition to Castillo, Mahle, and Gray, the Reds also have Vladimir Gutierrez, Reiver Sanmartin, and Hunter Greene looking to establish themselves as part of the starting rotation. But let's look specifically at both Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft.

Lodolo was Cincinnati's first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft and is one of the more advanced pitchers in the Reds' farm system. Lodolo is the team's top-rated left-handed prospect per MLB Pipeline and has a three-pitch mix that should translate very well to the big leagues.

Lodolo suffered through injuries last season, succumbing to blisters on his left hand and a shoulder injury near the end of last season. But the southpaw still made 13 starts while playing at both Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. Lodolo posted a 2.31 ERA with 78 punch outs over 50.2 innings.

While Lodolo uses finesse and command, Ashcraft is a bit more of a power pitcher. The right-hander can touch triple-digits with his fastball, which also some movement to it. Some view Ashcraft as more of a reliever than a starter, but like Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen before him, the 23-year-old will be given every opportunity to start before being sent to the Cincinnati bullpen.

Graham Ashcraft has yet to play above Double-A, so making the leap to the majors might be a bit of a stretch. However, Lodolo's 6.2 innings with Triple-A Louisville last season don't really elevate him above Ashcraft.

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In the end, the pair of pitching prospects must bring their A-games to spring training, and even that might not be enough. I could foresee a scenario where Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft all begin the season at Triple-A Louisville and await their chance while continuing to develop.