Reds' draft bust unlocks power with Nationals after injury-riddled tenure in Cincy

Is Nick Senzel finally realizing his potential?
Houston Astros infielder Nick Senzel
Houston Astros infielder Nick Senzel / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Nick Senzel knows all too well the pressures that come with being a highly-touted prospect. Taken with the second-overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, Senzel was expected to be a keystone of the Cincinnati Reds franchise for the next decade. Coming out of the University of Tennessee, Senzel was seen as a can't-miss prospect who would hit for average and power.

Unfortunately, Senzel's career in Cincinnati was marred by injury after injury and years of substandard production, the organization finally decided to cut ties with the former first-round pick this past season. Senzel was non-tendered last November after hitting just .239/.302/.369 over five seasons with the Reds.

Senzel, however, latched on with the Washington Nationals this past offseason, and while he experienced yet another injury setback earlier this spring, the 28-year-old has caught fire over the past week.

Nick Senzel battled injuries throughout his Reds' tenure.

Senzel's 2024 campaign with the Nationals began much like his years in with the Reds. Senzel suffered a broken thumb during pregame warmups ahead of an Opening Day series against Reds and was placed on the injured list before the season even began.

Senzel's tenure in Cincinnati was defined by injuries. The former Tennessee Volunteer battled vertigo during his time in the minor leagues, suffered an ankle injury ahead of his major league debut in 2019, injured his shoulder during his rookie season, fought through illness in 2020, and endured a knee injury in 2021. Through his first three seasons in a Reds uniform, Senzel played in 163 out of a possible 353 games.

Senzel was able to play in 110 games during the 2022 season, but a toe injury at the end of the year saw the former first-rounder finish the season on the IL for the third time in four years. Last season, Senzel became a part-time player. While he excelled against left-handed pitching, the Reds' depth allowed them to part ways with Senzel after the 2023 season came to a close.

Former Reds prospect Nick Senzel finds success with Nationals

Senzel signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Nationals this offseason and though he began the year on the IL, he's quickly moved into a key role for Davey Martinez's ball club. Working mostly as the Nats' third baseman, Senzel is back at his natural position and has been on fire the past week.

Over the past five games, Senzel has unlocked the power that Reds' fans had hoped to see for years. While he's hitting just .238 during that stretch, Senzel has posted an .952 slugging percentage and has five home runs in his last five games. Senzel cranked two big flies out of the stadium on Sunday, and it was the first time since May 6, 2019 that Senzel has posted a multi-home run game.

Questions will always persist about what could have been when it comes to Senzel's time in Cincinnati; most of which will always center around his position change to center field and an inability to stay healthy. Senzel's time in Cincinnati was defined by injuries, but he's trying to change that narrative with a new team and a new opportunity in our nation's capital.

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