Senzel-mania hitting early spring fever pitch

February 28th, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. – During his second start of the spring in center field for the Reds on Wednesday vs. the White Sox, top prospect Nick Senzel had a robust afternoon.

Senzel went 3-for-3 with an RBI double, two singles and a run scored during the 11-4 Cincinnati win over Chicago at Camelback Ranch. Ranked as the organization’s No. 1 prospect and No. 6 overall by MLB Pipeline, the 23-year-old drove in Derek Dietrich when he lined his double to left field.

“It was great to see Nick have a good day,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s getting more and more comfortable and had some plays in center field.”

Competing for the starting center field job this spring after he played only the infield previously as an amateur and in his first three professional seasons, Senzel made two catches in his debut vs. the Mariners on Monday. On Wednesday in the fourth inning, he was able to catch Eloy Jimenez’s drive to the warning track for the first out.

“It looked like he was getting good breaks and good routes,” Bell said. “Even the home run [by Jon Jay in the fifth inning], if it stays in the park, it looked like he took a good route. Overall, a good day.”

DeSclafani’s spring debut

Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani’s first outing of the spring came out of bullpen with one scoreless inning during the bottom of the fourth vs. Chicago. With one out, DeSclafani gave up a walk to Yolmer Sanchez and a single to Jose Rondon. He escaped trouble when Blake Rutherford flied out to left field and Sanchez was out at third base for the inning-ending double play.

“My body felt good, my arm felt good,” DeSclafani said. “I thought the ball was coming out of my hand pretty well. I was throwing some strikes. I’ve got to maybe make a few better out pitches.”

DeSclafani, who endured a lackluster 2018 season, had a spring goal of developing his little-used curveball for an extra pitcher in his repertoire. He threw two in the game Wednesday, including one to Sanchez that he was pleased with.

“He made a good swing and fouled it off. I’ve just got to keep throwing curveballs,” DeSclafani said.

Schebler outfield versatility valuable to Bell

Starting as the designated hitter vs. the White Sox, Scott Schebler was Cincinnati’s leadoff batter and went 1-for-2 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. As the Reds sort out their outfield situation, Schebler is competing with Senzel to be the starting center fielder come Opening Day. But Schebler has previously shown he can play all three spots.

“Yeah, it is valuable,” Bell said. “We’re confident he can play all three. We do want to see him in center, but he is going to play right and left. He’s in a good spot. That helps him being able to play all three and play them all well.”

Bell likes Schebler’s bat as well, and saw him hit well often when he served as the Cardinals’ bench coach, especially in 2017 when Schebler hit 30 homers.

“He has the ability to do a lot of damage,” Bell said. “He’s a disciplined hitter. He’s an athlete. He does a lot of things. We see him as a big part of the team.”

Up next

Joey Votto is expected to be back in the Reds’ lineup when they host the Brewers at 3:05 p.m. ET in Goodyear. Jesse Winker, Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez and Yasiel Puig are also planned for starts. On the mound, No. 5 prospect Tony Santillan is slated to make his first start while Michael Lorenzen, Sal Romano and Brandon Finnegan will appear from the bullpen.