Reds can see the future in trio of young pitchers

Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds brought up their three top pitching prospects last season to revive a starting rotation decimated by cost-cutting.

Right-handers Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft, and lefty Nick Lodolo experienced rookie struggles – with stunning flashes of brilliance mixed in – as the rebuilding Reds lost 100 games for the first time in 40 years.

“The progress you would like to see, we’ve already seen that,” manager David Bell said early in spring training at Goodyear, Arizona. “Hopefully they have many, many years to come. This is just the very, very beginning. They have to keep working to get better. You never have it figured out. That’s what I’m seeing this spring.”

Pitching coach Derek Johnson spoke to them about how they have the chance to become a foundation similar to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz for the 1990s Atlanta Braves .

“The three of us talk about being the core – every day,” the 23-year-old Greene said. “Looking at us in that light is pretty special. Having the friendship but also the competitiveness is exciting. The chemistry couldn’t be better.”

Greene was the second overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. He made the opening day roster in 2022, threw 100 mph fastballs and led the Reds in starts, innings and strikeouts. He had a late stint on the injured list with a strained shoulder, finishing 5-13 with a 4.44 ERA with 164 strikeouts in 125 2/3 innings.

In a start against Tampa Bay in July, Greene threw 38 pitches of 100 mph or more. When Greene returned from the injured list in September, he threw 33 pitches of 101 mph or higher in six innings against the Cardinals, striking out 11.

Having relied on a four-seam fastball and a slider, Greene has worked on developing a changeup – he threw it just 5% of the time last year, at an average of 90 mph.

“An extra tool for me to become even a better pitcher,” he said.

The 6-foot-6, 25-year-old Lodolo (4-7, 3.66 ERA in 19 starts) doesn’t have that kind of velocity but is an intimidating presence with a high strikeout percentage and low walk rate. The stocky, 25-year-old Ashcraft (5-6, 4.89) averaged 97 mph with his fastball and cutter.

“I mean we got good friendships all over the team, but us three are pretty close,” Lodolo said. “It’s good internal competition between us all, and I know all three of us are pulling on the same side of the rope.”

Anthony Rendon fan interaction video looked into by MLB

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND, Calif. – Major League Baseball is looking into a video circulating on social media that appears to show Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon grab a fan by the shirt through the bleacher guardrails after Thursday night’s game in Oakland, a league spokesperson said Friday.

Rendon looks to have grabbed the fan’s shirt near his chest through the bars of the railing and exchanged words with him before appearing to take a swipe at the bill of the man’s ballcap and walking into the tunnel.

Angels spokesman Adam Chodzko says the team has no comment. The Angels do not play Friday, but the club expects Rendon to address the video Saturday in the clubhouse before the game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland.

The video shows the fan, dressed in A’s colors, approach the railing as Rendon turns toward him from the tunnel walkway below. Rendon then appears to grab the man’s shirt and ask him what he just said, accusing the fan of calling him a derogatory term before swiping at his ballcap.

The A’s won the game 2-1.