It didn’t take long for Nick Lodolo to impress in his first outing for the Dayton Dragons.
The Cincinnati Reds 2019 first-round pick — a 21-year-old, 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher from Texas Christian University — pitched three innings, allowing one run on three hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
“I was excited to get out there and pitch,” Lodolo said. “I had heard about the crowds here and they brought it tonight. Obviously, the game didn’t end up how we wanted, but overall, it was good.”
The Dragons gave up three runs in the ninth inning, falling to the Great Lakes Loons 6-4 in front of 7,731 fans on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field.
Lodolo received praise from Reds catcher Kyle Farmer, who played five innings for the Dragons as part of a rehabilitation assignment.
“He’s got a bright future for sure,” Farmer said. “He’s really tall, real long. He’s got a really bright future for himself.”
It’s that tall frame that makes Lodolo tough for hitters to pick up, Farmer said. The Reds catcher compared him to two All-Stars — Reds pitcher Alex Wood and Red Sox ace Chris Sale.
“I’ve faced Sale a few times in spring training and he’s got some good stuff like Sale does,” Farmer said. “He pitches inside to righties like Sales does and his slider is a sweeper.”
Lodolo threw 43 pitches, including 30 for strikes. He mostly used his slider to strike out five of the 13 batters he faced.
“I try to tunnel it off my fastball so that it might break off and catch some guys by surprise,” he said. “I was throwing it good tonight.”
Farmer caught five innings and went 0-for-2 with a walk. He was placed on the seven-day concussion list last week after taking two foul balls off his mask during their game against the Chicago Cubs on July 16.
He expects to make one more rehab assignment before returning to the Reds, possibly this weekend in Louisville.
Farmer is hitting .237 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 67 games this season. It’s been tough sitting out this past week, he said.
“I love playing,” Farmer said. “The competitor in myself wants to play every day. We’re on a good run up there right now. It was fun to watch against Milwaukee. Hopefully, when Colorado comes in we’ll take care of them, too.”
In the fourth inning, Farmer took a throw at the plate from Dragons left fielder Mariel Bautista and tagged out Gersel Pitre of the Great Lakes Loons to end the inning.
“I’m glad I did,” Farmer said. “It showed that I was ready for that impact. I think I checked off a lot of boxes today — blocking balls, throwing out a runner, the play at home, a long inning that fifth inning. I think I checked off a lot of boxes that I wanted to check off. Hopefully that next outing we’ll go a little bit longer.”
Farmer didn’t know he was catching Reds 2019 first-round draft pick Nick Lodolo until he saw it on Twitter earlier in the day.
“I was pretty pumped to see him pitch,” Farmer said. “He looked really good. I think the crowd showed up more for him than for me. He’s got a really bright future. He’s got some really good stuff.”
Dragons manager Luis Bolivar was impressed with Lodolo in his first outing. The lefty has thrown 114 innings between his time at TCU and the Reds rookie league affiliate in Billings, Montana — meaning he’ll be handled carefully while in Dayton.
“He put on a good show,” Bolivar said. “He’s a guy we’ve got to take care of. We don’t want to rush him. He’ll have an innings limit and we’ll see how many outings he has left. We’ve got to take care of him.”
Miguel Hernandez had two hits for the Dragons, who led 4-1 after four innings. Great Lakes scored one run in the eighth and three in the ninth to earn the victory.
With the loss, Dayton fell to 28-42 overall and 14-18 in the second half. They’re seven games back of second half leader Bowling Green (60-42, 21-11 second half), but sit just two games back of wild-card leaders Lansing (48-53, 16-16) and South Bend (53-47, 16-16).
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