How was your weekend? Did you enjoy it? I certainly hope so. But, did you realize that it was the last weekend without Major League Baseball-related activities until November? Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona tomorrow. Some players are already there.

Today saw the launch of The Athletic – Cincinnati. If you already have a subscription to The Athletic, then you are good to go. If not, you will need to sign up in order to read all of the content over there. The first article written by C. Trent Rosecrans focuses on Nick Senzel, spring training, and perhaps a little bit of what the future holds for him. Speaking of Trent and The Athletic, he joined The Unnamed Reds Podcast last week to talk about what it is that he will be doing over there. If you haven’t listened yet, you really should.

John Fay stirred up some controversy, so-to-speak, on twitter yesterday. In a series of tweets he noted that the guy he wanted to see play was Nick Senzel. He then answered a question about whether he will be tried in the outfield, responding with this:

That led to a lot of speculation on the twitterverse that the Cincinnati Reds would be trying to play Nick Senzel in center field. There’s been plenty of talk, even by the Reds, of getting Senzel experience at other positions – including some outfield. With that said, there hasn’t been much talk about one of those spots being center. As I noted on twitter, he has the straight line speed to line up with some center fielders (based on home-to-first times). But, there’s more to playing center than just raw speed. Being able to get a quick read, then turn and go back, reaching top speed quickly is probably more important than just pure speed (unless you are Billy Hamilton fast). That is something that we just don’t know about with Senzel because we’ve never had to see him do it.

While having Nick Senzel play center would be a way to improve the position – assuming he can actually play there defensively – it would likely mean his time required before reaching the Major Leagues would be delayed. As a third baseman, or even as a second baseman, his ETA is probably in the first half of 2018. He’s had plenty of reps at both of those positions over the last four years between college and the Minor Leagues. Moving to center, or maybe even the corner outfield spots would likely require a later ETA as he will need more reps to find comfort at those spots.

As noted above, Major League Baseball is about to get started. They aren’t the only ones, though. College baseball, and in some places, high school baseball will also get started this week. Of course, they will be starting to play games this week. That means it’s time to start keeping tabs on players for the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft. The Reds will be drafting 5th overall – not quite as high as the past two seasons, but still a rather high pick. The prospect gurus at Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen have released their Draft Rankings for 2018. The Top 30 players have brief scouting reports with them, but the list is much deeper than 30 players. The top of the draft board is pitching heavy.

One last link for now: Yesterday evening I joined Chad Dotson for the Redleg Nation Radio podcast. We talked about the potential 25-man roster if it were made today, and even had a little bit of prospect talk in there. As always, show up for the baseball talk, but hang around for the movie suggestions at the end.

28 Responses

  1. Fish

    I hate to go here, but do you think it’s a ploy to extend his service time window? If they keep him at second or third, the argument could be hes ready a lot sooner. If they put him in CF, we could be looking at a september callup.

    • Jim H.

      They’ve made public comments, specifically in that article, that they plan to extend the service time. I believe Williams flat said he is not competing for a job in camp this spring.

    • jbonireland

      I’m sorry guys, I don’t see the need to try Senzel at so many positions. I know it might get him up sooner for 2nd base or shortstop, but this guy is rated as the top defensive third baseman in the minors. In all probability Suarez will only be around another 2 years if he isn’t extended so if we are going to be playing musical bodies I’d rather do it by moving Suarez. I guess we will have to see if the Reds really have any intention of signing Suarez long term, I’m not sure if I would do it as he reminds me of Todd Frazier who isn’t aging gracefully and I don’t see the same clubhouse leader in Suarez. Just my thoughts.

      • Michael Smith

        What makes you think Suarez and Frazier are a good comparison? Only asking because Suarez strike zone command is light years ahead of Fraziers.

      • Tyler

        Suarez is a stud. I don’t see much comparison between him and Frazier, at least not offensively. Completely different approaches. I also think Saurez has a strong work ethic. I hope we extend him. We can figure out a way to have both him and Senzel in the lineup.

      • Doug Gray

        It doesn’t matter much how good Senzel is at third base if they aren’t going to play him there. In the mean time, he’s got to play somewhere else, and the Reds certainly aren’t going to keep him in the minor leagues for the next three seasons just to keep him playing only third base and wait for Suarez to play out his contract.

        Either the Reds need to move Suarez or move Senzel. It seems that their plan is to move Senzel to another spot.

    • Bill

      There is really no financial advantage to keeping him down beyond early to mid June (super 2 threshold).

  2. Michael B. Green

    I think Senzel’s path to CIN could potentially mirror that of Corey Seager. In 2015, LAD watched Seager in 14 games (18 PA’s) in Spring Training. While he performed well, they sent him back to AA – a place that he had already dominated the year before. Nevertheless, he showed improved plate discipline (cut down on his K%) and after about a month was then moved up to AAA.

    At AAA, he performed well and earned a September call-up. He lit it up in September for LAD and the rest is history.

    I could see the same route for Senzel although I personally hope Senzel gets the call before September. You may not need to worry about exhausting one of his 3 options if you go that route though (not that I really expect that to become an issue but it is a prudent planning move). Even the great Joey Votto (and he is great) had to wait for a September call-up.

    Taking that approach may allow some of these Gennett-Suarez-Peraza-Duvall-Hamilton issues to sort themselves out too. Spring Training should give us some kind of tell.

    Can you name the last prospect that has brought this much excitement to CIN Spring Training? Probably Hamilton or Chapman.

    Meanwhile, Winker can quietly go into 2018 as a legitimate ROY candidate…

    • Stock

      Good post Mike. I agree. No place to really play Senzel unless Suarez moves to SS or there is a trade. Senzel may spend the year in the minors.

  3. sultanofswaff

    Players with above average talent on grounders should only be put in the outfield as a last resort. Senzel as a fringe average defender at SS with an elite bat gets him to the All-Star game.

    One could extrapolate that to mean the Reds have a lot more confidence in Peraza than any of us do.

    You could also read that to mean the tide is turning in the front office about Hamilton as a core piece moving forward. Given the Red’s record, they should be open minded about any and all scenarios.

  4. The Duke

    I like Mize, but the more I read about how much scouts question his delivery and durability, it makes me pause. A top 5 pick still carries a lot of weight, and there are other very good options as well.

    Hankins sounds like a poor mans Hunter Greene, I’d probably rather not go with a young power armed righty from HS for the second year in a row

    Liberatore is a high school pitcher, but his command/control/poise, and secondary offerings are pretty much universally praised. He’ll be one to follow this spring. Doesn’t hurt that he’s a lefty either.

    McClanahan has the pitches and is a power lefty, but has already had TJS and has a slight build.

    Some think Madrigal can play SS, but most tend to agree he’ll be a 2B, albeit a good one defensively with maybe the best hit tool in the draft and at least 50 power despite his small stature.

    Gorman’s raw power is certainly intriguing and most scouts seem to like his feel to hit as well. Some questions whether he sticks at 3B, but even as a RF, he might be worth serious consideration.

    I can’t imagine Singer lasts until 5, but the same was probably said about Puk and Faedo in years past though. He’s got the pedigree, that’s for sure. I don’t like his lower arm slot, but it works for him.

    Lots of intriguing options, I’m looking forward to following these guys over the next few month.

    I signed up for The Athletic today. After only a few articles so far, I think it might be the best $30 I spend this year.

  5. MK

    It worked out OK with Bryant. With Herrera out of options I believe he will get a lot of time at second this Spring. I would really like to see them move Gennett this Spring. His value can only go down at this point so they need to sell high.

    • Stock

      I don’t think Gennett’s value is so high right now. No one would pay 2017 prices for a player who stunk before that. I think you wait until July on Gennett because if he plays well (and I think he will) his stock will soar.

      • Shawn

        He diddnt stink before that. He has hit for a decent average before. His power played up this year tho. He does stink against LH pitchers

  6. AirborneJayJay

    One overlooked pitcher might be LSU’s Zack Hess. Going from dominant closer to LSU starter. Hopefully he is as good of a starter as he was a closer.

    Reds can’t draft him as high as #5 to be a closer though. And no Comp. Balance picks between round 1 and 2 this year to fall back on. There will always be surprises that work their way up to about the #5 spot in most drafts. Might be the case for the Reds in 2018 draft. Maybe it could be Hess with a dominant year at LSU in the SEC and a great showing in the CWS.

  7. AirborneJayJay

    Might it be time for the Reds to make one more fortification to their bullpen as spring Training is set to open? The need is a LH reliever. With LH Tony Watson still available could the Reds get him in camp on a 2 year deal? MLBTR projected him for a 2 year / $12MM deal. At this late stage, would a 2 year / $8 – $10MM deal get it done? Can the Reds afford to add only $4-$5MM to their payroll this year and next?
    Watson did have a better time in LAD than he did with PIT last year. Looking over Watson’s stats, it looks like it was the HR ball that has bitten him the last 2 years, 10 in 2016 and 9 last year. He usually gives up about 5 a year.
    I’m sure the Reds have looked, but if you broke down the pitches on each of those 19 HR’s allowed over last 2 years, what would the common denominator be? Sinkers that didn’t sink? Hanging sliders? Change ups that didn’t move?
    I’m also sure the Reds have an excellent scouting report on him as he was with PIT for several seasons.
    Plus Watson is not a Boras Corporation client holding out for top dollar. Watson made $5.6MM last year, so an $8 – $10MM for 2 years might have to have some incentives attached. But a team as needy in LH relievers as the Reds are it might be a good risk. He would have to be a better later inning option than Hughes and Hernandez and an extra LH specialist when needed.

    • MK

      They have waited a couple of times before only to see the value of the player decline in the first half.

    • victor vollhardt

      Tony Watson IS a Boras client. Even the “Hot Stove” program on the MLB channel had him listed as a Boras client this AM 2/12/18.Over half of the 50 or so free agents who should get major league contracts are Boras clients. Some teams have lots of Boras clients (Washington is one), but the Reds seem to avoid them entirely and I believe it is by design. You are right about the Reds needing another LH reliever, and maybe if you were looking for a a one or two batter type of guy—Oliver Perez might fill the bill on a one year minor league contract.

  8. MK

    Kind of surprised the marketing for the Greeneville Reds has not gotten off to a better start. Their web page still shows them as the Greeneville Astros there are no ticket sales going on

  9. Simon Cowell

    We made Hamilton a last-minute CF and that defensively turned out just fine. I don’t think it hurts anything to try Senzel at CF. The one thing that wouldn’t make sense would be in putting him at third. That position seems to be thick for the time being. I think even Blandino could cover third in a pinch. Shortstop seems to be our biggest uncertainty and i’d be ok with a Peraza, Blandino, Hamilton rotation until one takes ownership.
    Many are banking on Scooter to regress. Well if that is our outlook we better plan on regression at every position.

    • Doug Gray

      Hamilton spent a year playing center before doing so in the major leagues.

    • Colorado Red

      Scotter had a career year.
      I would expect a small regression, but not much.
      If Nick can play CF that would be great.
      SS, can only wait and see what Jose does.
      We are not competing for a WC this year, so give Jose time.

  10. danielegeuna

    ”One of the bright spots in the Reds’ future is number one draft pick Nick Senzel, who is rated among the top prospects in baseball, but will have to find a position to crack this Cincinnati Lineup. Senzel is naturally a third baseman, but Eugenio Suarez seems to be firmly entrenched there after a solid 2017 campaign, so there is talk of Senzel experimenting in spring training at other infield positions, and maybe even the outfield. “I feel like my first couple of minor league years went by so fast,” says Senzel.