The Chattanooga Lookouts are set to begin their 2021 season with the top two prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization and with three of the top five.
Chattanooga's opening roster includes 6-foot-6, 205-pound, left-handed pitcher Nick Lodolo and 6-5, 230-pound right-hander Hunter Greene, who threw a pitch early last month at a spring training game in Arizona that was clocked at an eye-popping 105 mph. Lodolo and Greene are the top two organizational prospects, according to MLB.com, and are scheduled to be joined in the rotation by Connor Curlis, Matt Pidich and Randy Wynne.
Lodolo spent three seasons at TCU before becoming the No. 7 pick and the first pitcher selected in the 2019 draft. He appeared in a couple of games that summer for the Single-A Dayton (Ohio) Dragons and produced a 2.57 ERA with nine strikeouts in seven innings.
Greene was the second overall pick in the 2017 draft and created a stir at the 2018 Futures Game, consistently reaching 102 mph as an 18-year-old. He developed an elbow strain that year, however, and wound up undergoing Tommy John surgery before the 2019 season.
Reds player development director Eric Lee said several weeks ago that Lodolo and Greene opening with the Class AA Lookouts would not be a surprise.
"Hunter and Nick participated in (MLB) spring training, and those are two guys we've seen a lot of these last couple of years despite the challenges," Lee said. "They are right on track, and we are really proud of their progress. Those two guys need to be challenged, and Chattanooga and Double-A baseball certainly provides that challenge."
Also set to open with the Lookouts is shortstop Jose Garcia, who is Cincinnati's No. 5 prospect.
Three members of Chattanooga's opening roster played for the Lookouts in 2019: outfielder Narciso Crook and relief pitchers Nick Howard and Reiver Sanmartin. Crook hit .296 in 24 games, producing six doubles and two triples.
Minor league baseball was not played last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Lookouts' opener against the Rocket City Trash Pandas on Tuesday night at AT&T Field is already sold out.