In 2017, the Cincinnati Reds used their 1st round pick, number 2 overall, to select Hunter Greene, an 18 year old flamethrowing right handed pitcher. In 2019, The Cincinnati Reds used their 1st round pick, number 7 overall, to select Nick Lodolo, the top rated pitcher in the class. The Reds bet on these two high ceiling prospects, looking to them to lead the future of the Reds pitching staff. Although there have been a few bumps in the road for these two young prospects, 2021 has given a glimpse into the emergence of Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo.
The Reds selected Hunter Greene as a potential two-way prospect, showing first round potential as a pitcher and a shortstop. For the entirety of his tenure in the Reds organization though, he has been used as a pitcher. Everything had gone according to plan until the young prospect had to have Tommy John surgery in April of 2019. Greene has bounced back rather well through his rehab and into his first full season of being healthy this year.
Just this week, Greene was announced to have been promoted to Triple-A Louisville where he will be making a start soon. In his seven starts at Double-A Chattanooga, Greene has been nothing short of dominant. He currently holds a perfect 5-0 record, to pair with his 1.98 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, which both rank fourth in the Double-A South. Along with these eye opening stats, Greene also leads the South in strikeouts(60 in 41 innings), while only issuing 14 walks. Greene regularly throws over 25 pitches faster than 100 MPH in every start.
If this dominance continues into Triple-A, it is only a matter of time until Greene gets the call to the big leagues.
When the Reds selected Nick Lodolo with the seventh pick in the 2019 draft, they knew they were going to get a very polished prospect that held all the physical tools to be a major league pitcher. Lodolo was a 6-foot-6, long and lanky college pitcher that had already proved that he had the pitchability to be successful.
While Greene has received a majority of the publicity, mostly due to his explosive fastball, Lodolo has flown under the radar and consistently thrown like the best pitcher in all of minor league baseball. Through 6 starts, Lodolo has logged 30 innings and holds a 2-0 record. In those 30 innings, Lodolo has put together an impressive 45/6 K/BB ratio. Although these statistics are all impressive, the most impressive part of Lodolo’s 2021 campaign is his ERA(.90) and his WHIP(.83), both of which lead the Double-A South.
The only roadblock that Lodolo has faced this year has been blisters on his left hand, causing him to miss action as of late. Once this is cleared up, Lodolo will look to continue his reign of terror through minor league baseball.
Potential Impact in 2021
Through the first 63 games of the year, the Reds bullpen has been far from a strength. Tejay Antone, their most reliable relief pitcher, found himself on the 10 day IL. After Antone, Sean Doolittle, Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, Brad Brach and Heath Hembree all hold ERAs higher than a 4.00.
This nightmare of a start for the Reds bullpen presents the Organization with a unique situation: potentially using Greene or Lodolo out of the bullpen if the Reds are playoff contenders when it is time to expand rosters.
This would be a very tough decision to make, as bringing up prospects too early could damage their development. But on the other side of the decision, these two are two of the better pitchers in the entire organization and if the Reds are fighting for a spot in the playoffs in September, all of Cincinnati will want their best pitchers on the roster and on the mound.
Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene will be two of those best pitchers.
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