Cincinnati Reds prepare to find a spot for Nick Senzel

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Despite an effort to keep him in the minors, Nick Senzel is forcing the hand of the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cincinnati Reds had in mind a slow path of development for their first round pick of the 2016 draft.  They figured 2020 was a good time to plan on Senzel’s arrival.  Now, 2018 looks like a strong possibility with Triple-A the fallback.

Senzel is a right-handed hitting third baseman.  He split his 2017 almost exactly evenly between High-A and Double-A.  From the second pick overall to Double-A in one season is quite impressive.

In A-Ball playing for the Daytona Beach Tortugas, Senzel batted .305.  He collected 23 walks over 62 games, scoring 41 runs.  He also struck out 54 times.

In the second half, Senzel moved up to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.  There Senzel batted .340 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs.  In 57 games he struck out 43 times and walked 26 times.

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In 2016 Senzel played a combined 68 games between rookie ball and Low-A.  He hit seven home runs and collected eighteen steals.  He also struck out just 54 times against 38 walks.

This followed a career at the University of Tennessee where Senzel batted .332 with an OBP of .426.  He only hit 13 home runs in three seasons, but he drove in an impressive 126 runs.  His at-bats, hits and slugging percentage each went up each season that he was in Knoxville.

With Nick Senzel’s offensive output forcing the issue, the Cincinnati Reds will test him across the diamond in spring training.

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The Reds think that Senzel can play shortstop.  It isn’t that easy.  The Volunteers moved him off of that position in college for a reason.

The scouting reports have Senzel pegged defensively similar to former Montreal Expo and Chicago Cub Vance Law.  Senzel has the hands for third and the range for second.  Whether he has the arm for short is the question.

Senzel can also play the corner outfield positions, as well.  He has no experience there, but he has athleticism.  Unless there is a spate of injuries that doesn’t buy him much.

Backing up second and third with an occasional foray into right field appears to be the best way to get Senzel regular at-bats on the big league club.  That assumes that the Reds don’t move third baseman Eugenio Suarez or second baseman Scooter Gennett before the start of the season.  They would have to move two outfielders to open up space out there.

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The Reds have a great problem.  They’re number one prospect is ready to contribute more quickly than expected.  This is much better than so many players that never contributed on the big league level.