Friday, June 10, 2016

Nick Lodolo - Long, Tall Prep Projection

The Pirates used the #41 sandwich pick on LHP Nick Lodolo, from La Verne, California's Damien HS, the school that produced one-time Bucco Daniel Moskos and Bash Brother Mark McGwire. It was the first time since 2010 that the Pirates spent a top-two pick on a prep pitcher (that year's guy was #1 selection Jameson Taillon).

Nick is a long drink of water at 6-6, 180 pounds, but at 18 years old, the Bucs are counting on packing at least another 25 pounds or so on that stringbean frame. He's a projection, and the Bucs haven't had much luck with their crystal ball on high school arms, but Lodolo has a lot to recommend him.

Nick Lodolo (photo via Damien Spartans)

Though his mechanics are as raw as a presidential campaign, his delivery is loose and so he should respond well to some tweaking and natural physical growth. He has a fastball that sits at 90 and reaches 92, and while the velo is good for a prepster, the Bucs were drawn to his downward plane on the pitch and its natural sink, both all the better to cajole grounders. Lodolo also features a change which is inconsistent - no dominating HS pitcher has a truly developed change, and it's rare that they show one at all - and a slurve.

His slurve is an interesting delivery right now, and could branch into a pair of pitches. As a curve, it sometimes moves more flatly across the plate than taking a dive, and he tends to tip it. But with some coaching up, it should develop into a more traditional drop. It's also in an early enough stage that once his mechanics become repeatable and his deliveries feature the same arm slot and speed, that the pitch could serve as a springboard to a pretty decent slider.

So there's a lot to like. He already coaxes a lot of weak contact, keeps the ball down, uses both sides of the plate (another Bucco mantra) and has the potential to work with a four-pitch toolkit. So despite the Pirates track record, Lodolo may have the stuff the buck the odds as a teen mound selection.

He's signed with Texas Christian University, a hothouse for growing pitchers, and his slot value is $1,576,000.

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