The Fascination with Jesse Winker

After his outstanding performance in the Arizona Fall League, Reds prospect Jesse Winker opens a few more eyes. He won the league’s batting title with a batting average of .338. So impressed, MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo tabbed him as the #6 prospect from this year’s edition of the AFL.

And he turned 21 in August.

Winker has ascended up many prospect lists the more he plays and the more scouts see of him. Doug Gray of Reds Minor Leagues has Winker currently as the Reds #2 prospect (post 2014 season) with Robert Stephenson leading the way. After Winker’s first season in the Reds system, Gray initially ranked Winker at #5. He slotted Winker at #4 after 2013.

One area where Winker gets a passing grade (by far in some eyes) is his ability to hit lefty pitching. Left-handed batters sometimes do have a tendency to struggle when facing southpaws, but Winker appears to not be among that group. Here are his splits for the three seasons he’s played in the Reds organization:

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Overall, Winker owns a .297 batting average when facing LHP. As Winker progresses through the system, this is obviously an area that will continued to be monitored. After three seasons, it’s hard to argue with the results.

And that average against lefties just so happens to be what his three-year batting average is. His slashline as a whole is .297/.401/.489.

As you can see from the slashline, there is more to love about Winker. He gets on base. One reason: he will take a walk. The lowest BB% he has posted at any level is 13.0%. That was in 2013 when he spent the entire season in Dayton. For his MiLB career, his BB% is 14.2%. In these days where on-base percentage receives such high praise, Winker clearly shows he’s more than capable of getting on base.

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He will strike out once in a while as well as indicated by his MiLB career K% of 17.5%. But couple that with his excellent walk rate and his BB/K is an astounding 0.81. For the record, the MLB averages in those three categories last season were 7.6%, 20.4%, and 0.37, respectively. Winker is ahead of the curve in those areas. Granted, there’s no guarantee those rates will transfer to the big league level, but if they do, what a weapon the Reds will have in Winker.

Yes, the Reds currently have a void in left field, the position that Winker mans defensively. Should the Reds face struggles in 2015 similar to those from last season, there will undoubtedly be an outcry from some to give him a look. Currently, Winker’s not on the 40-man roster, but as we know, the organization could easily make a move should the front office decide to explore that option.

For 2015, Winker will most likely begin the season with Pensacola which is where he ended last season. Should he continue to hit as he has, a promotion to Louisville would certainly be in the offering. I would totally count out a start at Louisville though.

All Jesse Winker does is continue to produce and fascinate not only Reds fans, but baseball fans everywhere.