Cincinnnati Reds Jesse Winker graduates from prospect to performer

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

Jesse Winker prepares to debut as an everyday player for the Cincinnati Reds.

Last season, prospect Jesse Winker made his MLB debut for the Cincinnati Reds.  This season, he is the projected lead-off hitter for the team for the first game of the season.  Winker is now an MLB player.

The Reds named Winker the next great hope almost as soon as they drafted him.  As he rose through the minors he didn’t disappoint.  His minor league stat line shows that he is the real deal.

First baseman Joey Votto’s minor league slash line was .289/.385/.476.  Winker’s was .298/.398/.449.  So Winker was better at getting on base in the minors, than the best at what he does in the National League.

Votto came to the majors close to fully formed.  He spent about one more season maturing than Winker.  Winker appears close to fully formed in his own right.

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The Reds drafted Winker out of Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida.  He moved up the minor league organization quickly enough that he was only 23 when he made his MLB debut.  Top prospect Nick Senzel will have to debut this year to be younger than Winker.

Overall, Winker is who he is.  He gets on base at a high clip and has a repeatable swing.  His defense is still maturing.

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Despite all of the good development, Jesse Winker has to actually produce for the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds have publicly discussed two options for where Winker will bat in the order.  They have mentioned first and seventh.  Batting him lead-off on days that left fielder Adam Duvall is off is a direct result of Billy Hamilton’s slow spring and loose hold on a staring role.

Winker gets on base.  Unfortunately, right now he is a slow base runner.  With Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto potentially in the next two spots in the order, the team could have the slowest top of the line-up in baseball.

Winker also needs to produce defensively.  He plays a major league level left field, but his right field skills are in question.  He needs to play at least an average right field on days that Scott Schebler and Hamilton are off for this to work.

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The Reds have every reasonable expectation that Winker will be a major part of their team going forward.  He has already shown that he can get on base at the big league level.  Now he just has to do it consistently, like other major leaguers.