Like so many players over the last couple of years, Nick Lodolo has not had a normal start to his pro career. On Thursday night, it looked like it didn’t matter.
Baseball’s No. 50 overall prospect struck out 10 batters without a walk and allowed just two hits in five shutout innings, retiring the last 14 batters he faced in his Double-A debut as Chattanooga sank Rocket City, 6-3, in the first game of a doubleheader. The decision gave Lodolo, a 2019 first-rounder, his first professional win.
The two hits Lodolo yielded, both singles, came in the game’s first three batters before the lefty locked in. With runners at first and second in the first, the top Reds prospect fanned Mitch Nay before inducing a force out from Ray-Patrick Didder to end Rocket City’s lone early threat.
From there, Lodolo was untouchable. The southpaw struck out two batters in each of his five innings and pounded the strike zone, throwing 47 of his 67 pitches in the zone.
Lodolo went to the Reds out of Texas Christian with the seventh overall pick in the 2019 Draft and made eight starts between Rookie-level Billings and Class A Dayton. Over his heavily monitored 18 1/3 innings (following the 103 he threw in college that year), Lodolo went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA, striking out an eye-popping 30 batters without a walk.
With Thursday’s showing, Lodolo now owns 40 career strikeouts while still having not issued his first free pass.
Lodolo took part in Cincinnati’s summer camp last year and also pitched at the club’s alternate training site during the pandemic-shortened season.
Fifth-ranked Reds prospect Jose Garcia continued his strong start to the season by going 2-for-3 with his second homer of the year, a two-run blast in the third inning.