With the seventh pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Reds selected LHP Nick Lodolo out of Texas Christian University. Lodolo is a case where a player bet on himself by declining to sign after being a fairly high pick (41st overall back in 2016) and coming back to have that bet pay off as he widely considered to be one of the best pitching prospects in the draft.
Lodolo’s arsenal consists of a fastball that can touch the mid 90’s with good life, a slider that he has tightened up significantly that he generally throws in the lower 80’s, and a changeup that he has decent feel for at times, but that he hasn’t thrown as much in 2019 given the improvements and command of his other two offerings. He also has thrown a curveball in the past, but has all but abandoned that in favor of the slider which works better with his arm slot. What is particularly tantalizing about Lodolo is that while he is a college arm, he still has some projectability as his 6-foot-6 frame is currently only listed at 185 pounds. Tall, projectable lefties with a fair bit of polish already are a rare commodity which explains why he has risen to the top of this draft’s pitching class.
While there is a lot to like about Lodolo, there are some things worth taking into account. He did get hit harder than he probably should have his first two years in college which does make one wonder how his stuff will player against professional hitters, especially early on in his career. He also has a somewhat limited ceiling even with the amount of projectability he has with his frame. Most agree that he will be a decent pitcher, but you will struggle to find those that think he could end up as a frontline starter. Fortunately, in this draft class (and in particular this class of college arms), his command of the strike zone and track record is more than enough to make him among the best pitchers in the class even if that may not have been the case in other, more pitching rich years.