Nick Lodolo was the first pitcher selected in the 2019 draft. After a dominant junior season at Texas Christian, the lefty was viewed as a potential quick riser through the minor leagues.
After the draft he threw just 18.1 innings between Rookie-level Billings and and Low-A Dayton, striking out 30 batters without a walk and posting a 2.45 ERA before he was shut down at the beginning of August in order to keep his total workload in check.
Without a minor league season in 2020, the Reds assigned Lodolo to their alternate training site. While there, he was able to work his changeup—a pitch he didn’t throw much while in college.
“I feel like I needed to develop it,” Lodolo said of his changeup. “But that’s something I hit hard on last year at (the alternate training site), and I feel like it’s gotten a lot better from where it has been, from when I was drafted.
“(It’s) not there yet, obviously. I’ve got to keep going and I’m still working on it. But big strides from last year to this year with that pitch.”
It’s not just the changeup that he’s been working on. This spring Lodolo also mixed in a slider with his curveball that gives hitters a breaking ball with a different shape and speed to think about.
“He’s looked great (this spring),” Reds director of pitching Kyle Boddy said. “He’s breaking in the changeup more. The velocity has been good and the command is always good.”
His development from 2020 to 2021 didn’t go unnoticed by Reds manager David Bell, either.
“He’s developing before our eyes,” Bell said. “We got to see him some last year. As talented as he is, and as close as he could be to the major leagues—which could happen at any point—there’s still a development process that he has to go through.
“Mentally, just his comfort level, his understanding of his own abilities—it’s happening right before our eyes. He’s coming right along and improving just like we expected, if not quicker. “
— Righthander Christian Roa showed up in spring training with more velocity than he had shown in college. The 2020 second-round pick was throwing 95-97 mph this spring with his fastball.
— Righthander Ryan Olson was forced to retire due to complications from a back injury in 2019. He’s now back on the mound and focused on a relief role.