TCU ace Nick Lodolo is now a Billings Mustang after signing with the Cincinnati Reds.
Lodolo was drafted seventh overall, moving up 34 spots from his original draft number out of high school. He secured the full seventh pick value of $5.43 million by foregoing his senior season and starting his professional career.
The LaVerne, California native racked up 131 strikeouts in 2019. He was an integral piece to a 2017 College World Series team that made it to the semifinals before being eliminated. The lefty finished this year with a 2.36 ERA in 103 innings pitched. He never surrendered more than 28 walks in any of his three years with the Horned Frogs.
It makes a lot of sense for Lodolo to sign. Lodolo witnessed first-hand the cruel career of how Jared Janczak went from a sure first-round pick and a signing bonus worth millions to a 31st round draft pick after a plague of injuries. In order to make another full million, Lodolo would have needed to move up to the fourth pick. That kind of reward is certainly not worth the risk. Additionally, the No.1 pick isn’t always guaranteed to succeed. Mark Appel, the No.1 overall draft pick in 2013, is no longer playing baseball. Picked by the Houston Astros out of Stanford, Appel struggled through the minors and was eventually traded to the Phillies. He’s now out of baseball.
Lodolo is the highest draft pick out of the Big 12 Conference this season. He’s pitched one shutout inning for Billings already this season. On June 20, he struck out two Great Falls Voyagers hitters while allowing one hit. Billings is a member of the Pioneer League which is considered a Rookie Advanced league.
Assuming Lodolo stays healthy, he should move up the rankings quickly. He is expected to be a lock for the MLB and could be a future all-star, if not Cy Young competitor.
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