When the year started the Reds didn’t have Jesse Winker in the system. He was still in high school and had yet to be drafted. The Reds drafted him in June as a supplemental first round pick and sent the 18-year-old to the Pioneer League to play with the Billings Mustangs despite the league being a more advanced, mostly college filled league.

The season began in the middle of June and Winker got off to a quick start. In the first game Winker went 3-5 with a run scored and that set the tone for the entire season for the corner outfielder. In the 11 games during the month of June he went out and hit .366/.471/.439 with 8 walks and 13 strikeouts to go along with 3 doubles. He didn’t show much power on the month, but it was just 41 at bats. He showed off impressive plate discipline, particularly for a teenager in a league where he was one of the youngest players.

When the calendar rolled around to July, things changed, but for the better. Winker played 23 games in the month and he hit .342/.495/.474 with 22 walks and 13 strikeouts to go along with 5 doubles, a triple and a home run. His first career home run came on the 27th in Billings. His plate discipline during the month was flat out incredible as he nearly walked twice as often as he struck out. For teenagers, that is unheard of. His power output also picked up some from June.

In August and September Winker again did nothing but impress. He went to the plate 123 times and hit .324/.390/.541 with 10 walks and 24 strikeouts. The walk rate was a quite a bit lower than the previous two months, but his power was up significantly from the previous two months of the season. He hit 8 doubles, 2 triples and 4 home runs in that span.

275 77 16 3 5 35 1 3 40 50 .338 .443 .500

Overall Thoughts

I can’t recall an offensive prospect who had the kind of debut that Jesse Winker had for the Reds system since I started covering the minor leagues in 2004. Maybe I am forgetting about someone, but either way, he was fantastic. He was placed in a league hardly anyone his age gets placed in and went out and put up an OPS of .943 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Historically speaking, it is hardly the best from an 18-year-old, as that goes to Prince Fielder who hit an incredible .390/.531/.678 with 10 more walks than strikeouts back in 2002. He turned out to be an alright player I guess. Winker did post the highest OPS by someone under nineteen in the Pioneer League since the 2004 season of Billy Butler though. Winker showed a little bit of everything at the plate in his debut. He showed a very good hit tool, he sprayed the ball to all fields, showed outstanding plate discipline at times and over the final five weeks of the season he showed pretty good power too. He split time between both corner spots on the defensive side of things. With his debut he established himself as an already premium bat in the system.

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39 Responses

  1. IndyRedsFan


    do you expect him to spend the full year in Dayton in 2013?

    • Jimmer

      I would think that depends on how he performs. If he tears up low-A then they should move him up.

    • Doug Gray

      Yes, I do. Jay Bruce crushed it in Dayton as a 19-year-old. He had an injury in early August and slumped the final month, but going into August he was hitting something like .310/.370/.525 and didn’t get promoted. I don’t think Winker is on that level, particularly power wise, just yet.

  2. hunr4redsoct

    With the lack of SS prospects, what about Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz. 23 year old just declared a free agent.

    • Foxbud

      I would think either of the Cuban prospects would help replenish the position prospect side of the equation.

    • Stock

      Destroyed is a huge understatement. He hit .462 with 17 HR and 42 SB all in 253 AB. Great recall Clammy.

  3. MK

    What do we know of Winker’s speed and throwing arm?

    I looked up some outstanding sseasons at Billings since 2004. In ’04 a guy named Phil Gentry had almost the same numbers. Justin Turner and Chris Valaika were similar as well and your old favorite Danny Dorn who had better numbers in 2006; Yorman was pretty good in 2010.

    • RedStalk

      Have to pay attention to age here.
      After some quick examination, all of those guys but Yorman were 22+ at the time (And the difference between the walk rates is stark for Yorman/Winker).
      He was 18, in his first professional season.
      That’s a huge difference.

    • Doug Gray

      Winker is an average runner right now. Throwing arm is maybe a tad below average, which is why some scouts believe he will wind up in left field.

  4. The Duke

    With Ludwick’s 2 year deal and Winker likely starting this year in A ball, I have to wonder if the plan isn’t to have Winker ready by 2015 to take over in LF. That is super aggressive and he would only be 21, but LF is the easiest in the defensive spectrum, he already shows very good plate discipline and hit tool, and the Reds have no other hitter like him in the system. If somebody like Lutz or Lamarre steps up this year, maybe they back off that time table to give him more time, but I can definitely see that happening.

    • Foxbud

      I am not sure they are planning that far ahead after only 1 short season of ball. But I will be happy if they have already decided he is an untouchable along with Hamilton and Stephenson.

      • MK

        You know Foxbud with the track record of trading quality prospects the last couple of years (3 former #1 picks the last two years) I am not sure you can say anyone is untouchable.

      • Herbie

        For the most part anyone we’ve dealt, we pretty much knew they were trade bait beforehand.

    • RobL

      I agree with Foxbud, Ludwick’s two year deal has more to do with his spotty track record and age. But, the Reds probably do view Winker as the top canidate for LF in the future, just not 2015. It’s possible, but way to far out to build the big league team around.

    • Norwood Nate

      I think that is rushing Winker, who very likely won’t get out of A-ball this year. I think believe there are a few options coming up the pike that we’ll know about in two years as breaks or busts. Lutz, Fellhauer, LaMarre, and even YRod are possible corner OF’ers that could be ready in two years. In fact, Lutz, should be out of options in two years and the Reds would have to make a decision on him.

      There is also the possibility that HRod, Vidal, or maybe even (long shot) Mattair are knocking on the door for 3rd base pushing Frazier to LF when Ludwick’s contract is up.

      Eventually Winker will have a spot in the OF if he remains in the organization. I just think 2015 is too soon. Especially as we have some other good players that could step up between now and then.

    • Doug Gray

      I am with Foxbud here….. I don’t think they are planning on that kind of thing just yet. Perhaps with a really strong 2013 they will begin to think about that move, but a lot of things can happen between rookie ball and AAA too.

  5. Terry M

    On BA I still see International signing of players. The Cards signed an 18 year old for 950K and the Nats signed a 16 year old for 225K. I guess I just don’t understand the new draft and International signings. Can anybody clarify ??

  6. Jimmer

    I probably should have posted this in the last post, but with Anibal Sanchez getting a 5/80mil contract, at what point to the Reds have to look at trading either Bailey or Latos?

    Both guys are at least as good as Sanchez. I can’t imagine the Reds having the money to sign either one with the contracts that Phillips/Bruce/Votto have on the books going forward.

    • The Duke

      What we need to do is give one or both an extension right now so we can buy out 1-3 FA years at a bit of a discount for their secure and guaranteed money rather than risking injury and arbitration. That worked out beautifully with Cueto for us (albeit I don’t know how we resign Cueto after this contract). We need one of them to be our next aceal and hope the likes of Stephenson, Corcino, Cingrani, and Travieso work out. It sure seems like the FO philosophy is to lock up position players and try to develope a cost controlled pitching staff.

      • Jimmer

        Why would they be interested in giving a discount though? Reds have a very small window to win with this current pitching staff.

      • RobL

        Because nothing is guaranteed except their contract. Sanchez got paid free market rate. Bailey and Latos have 2 and 3 years before they get paid free market rate. If they want security, they will sign for below market value. If they are comfortable with the reward outweighing the risk of not signing, then the pitchers will just play out their arbitration years.
        The Reds won’t pay free market rate, because it is too common for pitchers to get hurt like Massett and Bray.

    • Doug Gray

      Not until they enter their last year before free agency do you even think of asking others if they are interested.

      With all of this new money coming into baseball, I believe the Reds could still extend these guys.

      • The Duke

        As it is right now, this may be our last year as a sub $100 million payroll.

  7. wanderinredsfan

    Alex Buccholz OPS’d over 1.000 in 2008, while nearly batting .400. He was a college draftee, however.

    Here’s to hoping that Winker is closer to Butler than Buchholz going forward, but I’m not ready to write Winker in as one of our handfull of top prospects just yet.

    • Doug Gray

      Yes, some guys have put up better numbers, but what we aren’t really seeing is a college guy going to Bakersfield and doing this kind of thing right out of the draft. That is where I am at. What Winker did would be like a guy being drafted, then going to Bakersfield in June and OPSing .900+ for the rest of the year. Guys just don’t do that.

  8. MikeD

    Hi Doug,
    Being in the military I am on the road a lot (too much), but I try to find a way to keep up with your site. I find it to be one of the best if not the best. We tend to fall in love with our prospects as I did with Didi, but after a few days I feel better with the recent trade.

    I was away on Thursday so I couldn’t ask a question but thinking ahead how would you rank the top 10 starting pitcher based on upside to include the major league roster on down. For me it would be something like this:

    1. Bailey
    2. Latos
    3. Cueto
    4. Chapman
    5. Stephenson
    6. Corcino
    7. Leake
    8. Travieso
    9. Guillion
    10. Arroyo


    • Doug Gray

      On pure and solely upside: Stephenson, Chapman, Latos, Bailey, Travieso, Garrett, Cueto, Guillon, Langfield and Diaz.

      Obviously, that is if everything goes perfectly right for everyone in terms of development of stuff and that clearly isn’t going to happen for anyone on the list.

  9. Dan

    What’s the word on Winker’s power Doug? I’ve seen some videos of him in BP and he seems to have the size and bat speed for it. Does he have the power for 25+ or do you see him settling in more as a gap to gap OBP guy?

    • Doug Gray

      I always hate to speculate without having seen a guy in person before, but with Winker there are at least good scouting reports since he was such a high draft pick and had the kind of year that he did.

      I hear that he is more of a 20-25 HR guy. Of course, projecting the power of an 18-year-old isn’t exactly a perfect science either.

  10. Doug Gray

    Mason Felt, the Reds 2012 5th rounder, was involved in a very bad car accident on Saturday afternoon. The crash took the life of his father. Mason was listed in one paper as in critical condition, while in another he was listed in stable condition. There are links below if you would like to read more.