Reds' offense could be 'a lot of fun to watch'

Cincinnati's bats heating up as Spring Training gets close to the end

April 4th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At the time in Spring Training when players are attempting to make their closing impressions their best ones, Kyle Farmer and Joey Votto did so in resounding fashion over the final weekend.

Farmer said Saturday that he has goals set for himself in 2022. Among them?

“Instead of a [certain] average -- hard-hit balls, barreled balls," Farmer said.

You can count Farmer's line-drive homer Saturday night among that description. During the Reds’ 6-3 win over the Padres, Votto also added a pair of RBI hits, the first of which was a scalded double down the right-field line.

Votto followed that up Sunday with a gargantuan blast in the second inning of Cincinnati's 15-4 win over Arizona at Salt River Fields that went a Statcast-projected 465 feet after coming off the bat at 111.9 mph. His second at-bat resulted in an RBI double that was sizzled to right field at 107.8 mph.

“He’s really committed to getting off to a good start,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Seeing that happen for him is just impressive. Everything about him, everything he does [is impressive].”

The hardest-hit ball of Sunday belonged to outfielder Aristides Aquino, who stamped his mark in pursuit of an Opening Day roster spot by clubbing a grand slam in the second that had a 114.9 mph exit velocity. Tommy Pham and Cristian Santana also each hit a home run as Cincinnati delivered its highest scoring output of Cactus League play.

“Joey and Mike [Moustakas] have a lot of power, and so does [Jonathan India], so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch,” Farmer said of the team’s power potential entering 2022.

“That Kyle Farmer and Nick [Senzel] are at the bottom, it says a lot about the rest of the guys,” Bell said. “It’s a lineup that gets on base. Clearly, there’s guys in the middle of the order that can drive ‘em in, and hopefully we can start that process back over at the bottom of the order. I would say it’s a well-balanced lineup.”

That the Reds’ regulars are clicking just days away from Thursday’s season opener against left-hander Max Fried and the Braves isn’t lost on members of the clubhouse.

“We lost [Eugenio Suárez] and [Jesse] Winker, and that was a tough loss for us,” Farmer said. “But you know, we have a lot of ballplayers in the clubhouse right now that love the game of baseball, love to work and love to show up every day and give 100 percent.”

Lodolo makes final case
Nick Lodolo, the Reds' No. 2 prospect and the No. 42 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, made his final appearance of the spring in Sunday’s win and tossed 69 pitches over four innings. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk, adding three strikeouts.

Lodolo's final line was somewhat deceiving, as two hits fell in largely due to the glaring Scottsdale sun. The southpaw even fielded his position well, working his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth by snaring a chopper that was hit back at him en route to a double play.

Swinging at a Lodolo curveball Sunday was a tricky proposition. He drew a swing and miss on his first four breaking pitches, utilizing it 23.2 percent of the time. His sinking fastball, which he ramped up as hard as 95.2 mph, remained his bread and butter, but he got only two misses on 15 swings against it.

“For the most part, I was happy with it,” Lodolo said of the outing. “I thought my fastball command was better than it has been, especially to my glove side. After the first inning, [my curveball] came alive a little bit. I think that’s probably the best it has been maybe since my first outing.”

It remains to be seen whether Lodolo will join fellow top prospect Hunter Greene in the Reds’ starting rotation to begin 2022. Cincinnati will not need a fifth starter its first time through due to an off-day. Lodolo is not on the club’s 40-man roster, which gives the team time to decide where he will begin the year.