Barry Larkin went to Arizona to help Cincinnati Reds top prospect Nick Senzel at shortstop.
Cincinnati Reds top prospect Nick Senzel is playing shortstop this spring. The prospect was primarily a third baseman in college. Now he is taking on a new position.
Rather than bounce him around, which the Reds mentioned this off-season, Senzel is focusing on short for now. That could change later. Right now, though, the Reds want to see if their top prospect can handle short.
Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin is there to help as a camp instructor. Larkin played 2,085 of his 2,088 games in the field at shortstop. The other three he played at second base.
Making the change for Senzel is more about where to go, if he isn’t fielding the ball himself. He also has to work on being more fluid. Third is a stop and gather position, while short is a position built on constant movement.
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Larkin’s goal is getting Senzel’s instincts to kick in rather than thinking about things. As an infielder, Senzel has an innate sense of how to field the position. Senzel’s goal is getting enough repetitions to see if he can play the position at the big league level.
The Cincinnati Reds are in no rush to limit Nick Senzel to one position.
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Senzel is blocked at the major league level by a starter at each position in the infield. The outfield has four players and only three positions. Senzel is spinning his wheels for a little longer.
Shortstop, though, is where the Reds lacked depth until recently. Until the middle of February, the Reds didn’t have anyone invited to camp that had been an every day starter at shortstop. When they signed Cliff Pennington to a minor league deal that changed.
With Pennington there, though, short is still the most likely position for Senzel to play early in 2018.
Jose Peraza is the starting shortstop, but could lose the position. He was the starting second baseman last season, but fell on his face.
Senzel, meanwhile, is a career .315 minor league hitter. He has 21 home runs and 105 RBIs over two seasons. He also has a career OBP of .393.
Now the Reds have a decision to make. They have to decide whether Senzel is someone to build around or someone to move around. Whichever way they go, the decision will impact the direction of the franchise in 2018 and beyond.