The more ready Nick Senzel is to play for the Cincinnati Reds, the tougher it will be to keep him in the minors.
The Cincinnati Reds decided that this spring training, Nick Senzel will be working on position flexibility. Right now Senzel is blocked from the big leagues by current third baseman Eugenio Suarez. After spring training that reason to keep Senzel in the minors will be gone.
The Reds plan on having Senzel play second base, shortstop and the corner outfield positions. He will do this while attending his first ever big league camp. That will be a pressure test for the Reds’ top prospect to be sure.
With him so close to the majors, it is easy to foresee Senzel passing Dilson Herrera as the next prospect to earn an everyday job in Cincinnati. Herrera will be in Cincinnati because he is out of options or else on the DL. Scooter Gennett and Suarez block Herrera for an everyday spot, just like Senzel.
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It is also easy to imagine Senzel having a better offensive year across the board than Suarez once Senzel plays full-time. Senzel hasn’t shown power yet, but he has already demonstrated that he can get on base at the minor league level. That and a higher batting average at Great American Ballpark would likely generate more home runs than what Suarez has produced.
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The Cincinnati Reds have a history of strong defensive third basemen.
Recently when the Reds have made the playoffs, they have been led by strong defensive third baseman. In 2010 and 2012, it was the best defensive third baseman of the era that led the Reds to the playoffs in Scott Rolen. He was so strong defensively that he is in the running for the Hall of Fame now.
When Rolen rode off into the sunset, Todd Frazier replaced him.
When Rolen played for the Reds, Frazier helped out at first and the outfield in addition to third. Once Rolen left, Frazier improved to a place defensive third baseman.
Following that model Senzel should stay at third. MLB Pipeline named him the best defensive third baseman in the minor leagues in 2017. Moving him around could endanger his development there.
Whether Senzel is developing versatility defensively or defensive excellence at third base, his development will push the Reds. It will be difficult to have him start the season in Louisville, if he can handle spring training. It will be impossible to leave him in Louisville for long, if he gets off to a hot start.