Top 25 Returning Big 12 Baseball Players, No. 18: Nick Lodolo, TCU, LHP
You know he’s got the stuff. Nick Lodolo is an excellent pitcher with a high ceiling. He could easily be one of the best pitchers in the Big 12 Conference.
He has yet to live up to those expectations though. That may be due to super high expectations for TCU with underwhelming results. Let’s face it. When your program goes from four straight appearances in Omaha to being excluded from a regional, it stings. That’s not Lodolo’s fault. What it can be contributed to is an injury plague. Both seasons, Lodolo has dealt with high pressure while TCU loses its best two players to season-ending injuries. Slugger Luken Baker has moved on to the St. Louis Cardinals organization. I’m uncertain about other’s expectations, but it’s hard to believe that Janczak is going to be at full strength after missing time each of the last two seasons. Lodolo has had to virtually step up his game on short notice as an underclassman after these two went down. That’s a lot of pressure for a youngster. The offense is struggling and your ace goes down. Try placing your sophomore stud into that position.
You can bet it’s made him stronger though. In the long run, having to mature and carry extra weight could help him through the minor leagues. Lodolo had spurts of excellence in 2018. When he was off though, he was off. At some points, he couldn’t make it to the third inning. In other games, he’d have 13 strikeouts through six innings.
Lodolo is a strikeout pitcher. He surrendered the fewest sacrifice flies on the team in 2018. He fanned 93 batters in 77 innings. However, he can’t manage to get his end of season ERA under four. By the end of his sophomore year, he had to step up into staff’s “ace” role.
He should have been placed in the ace role this season. Janczak should have been signed as a first-rounder and be moving up the minor leagues right now. Instead, he’s back and now Lodolo doesn’t have “all eyes” on him. You have to believe that the Laverne, California native is ready for this season though. He was the 41st overall pick in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He was the highest pick that did not sign. Lodolo is draft eligible this season, and if he thrives, he’ll be a top 50 pick again.
Lodolo has the tools and the talent. We’re just waiting on the results. If they come this season, TCU just might pitch their way back to Omaha.
For the rest of our Top 25:
No. 25: Baylor 1B/C Shea Langeliers
No. 24: WVU Utility Tyler Doanes
No. 23: WVU IF Marques Inman
No. 22: Oklahoma State OF Trevor Boone
No. 21: Baylor OF Richard Cunningham
No. 20: Kansas State OF Will Brennan
No. 19: West Virginia OF Darius Hill
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