TCU left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo could be a great option for the San Diego Padres with the upcoming #6 pick in the MLB Amateur Draft.
The San Diego Padres, home to the current number one overall farm system in baseball, are about to get richer. With the sixth overall pick in the upcoming MLB Draft, a farm system full of talent is on the verge of potentially adding another impact player.
This six or seven-piece series will take an in-depth look at who the Padres could select with the sixth overall pick in the draft. These are not predictions, but instead just breaking down some potential options that may or may not be available when San Diego is on the clock.
In the last piece, I wrote about how the Padres could potentially take Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday with their first selection in this draft. While that is certainly a possibility, San Diego’s track record in the recent drafts suggests that they may choose to go a different route.
The Padres have selected a pitcher in each of the last three drafts. Eric Lauer was the last collegiate arm the team took, but both MacKenzie Gore and Ryan Weathers were high-upside high school arms that A.J. Preller decided to take a shot on. With the team moving closer and closer to contention, however, the Padres will likely take a college arm if they go the pitching route with their selection.
Enter Nick Lodolo.
Weight: 185 pounds
Arguably the best college arm in the entire draft, Lodolo is a college arm with tremendous upside. Either him or West Virginia right-hander Alek Manoah may be the first pitchers taken in the draft and the value itself might be too much for the Padres to pass up on.
The 6’6″ left-hander from TCU was a supplemental first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2016. He chose not to sign and go the college route instead, where Lodolo stepped into the rotation as a freshman and had some success early on. This season was when he truly put his name on the map, as Lodolo has been flat out dominant for the Horned Frogs all year. Through 91 innings pitched, Lodolo has a 2.18 ERA, 113 strikeouts, 19 walks, and an opponent batting average of .202.
His frame is something that most scouts salivate over, as Lodolo has ideal size and could easily fill out as he matures. He delivers the baseball from a deceptive arm slot that makes it difficult for hitters to pick up on what he is throwing. Lodolo operates with a three-pitch mix that has each garnered a 55-grade from scouts. His fastball operates between 90-94 mph and occasionally touches 96 mph on the gun. Lodolo threw a curveball before this 2019 season but did not have a good feel for it and could not throw it for strikes, so he developed a slider that has become a solid swing-and-miss pitch for him. His best secondary offering is his changeup, as Lodolo throws it with a similar arm action to his fastball and can command it quite well. He has the potential to miss a ton of bats moving forward, but the command needs to improve as he has a tendency for missing spots and that will only hurt him once he faces professional hitters.
Lodolo has to be attractive to the Padres because of the upside he possesses. He’s been fantastic already, but with his size and ability to miss bats, Lodolo has front-end potential as a starter. His maturity has to be taken into consideration as the team moves closer to contention, as Lodolo could progress quickly through the system if he just improves his command by a small margin. Their track record of selecting high-upside pitchers in the first-round suggests that Nick Lodolo might be the pick for the Padres.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.