Editor's note: With Spring Training coming next week, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of the 2018 Reds each day this week. Today's topic: Excited to see ...CINCINNATI -- Perhaps not since Cuban flamethrower Albertin Chapman in 2010, or outfielder Jay Bruce before that, have the Reds
Editor's note: With Spring Training coming next week, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of the 2018 Reds each day this week. Today's topic: Excited to see ...
CINCINNATI -- Perhaps not since Cuban flamethrower Albertin Chapman in 2010, or outfielder Jay Bruce before that, have the Reds had someone with no Major League experience who will be as intriguing as top prospect Nick Senzel.
Senzel will be wearing No. 79 and is a non-roster invite to big league Spring Training for the first time. His chances of breaking camp with the team aren't great, but there should be buzz surrounding his every development.
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First, everyone watching Senzel will want to see if he's ready for the big leagues. And if the 22-year-old third baseman is ready, where will he play?
"There are a couple of different opportunities at different positions," Senzel said on Jan. 25. "I'm excited to get out there, be with some of the big league guys, and kind of pick their brains and play some games and being in the lineup. It should be fun."
Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Cincinnati's No. 1 prospect and No. 7 overall in baseball, Senzel batted .321/.391/.514 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 119 games during 2017 with Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Pensacola. Expectations are that Senzel will open the regular season at Triple-A Louisville, but of course, he will be aiming higher.
Senzel has been on the fast track since the Reds made him the second overall pick of the 2016 Draft out of the University of Tennessee. His advanced plate approach, skills and maturity have helped him move quickly.
The only thing Senzel doesn't have -- besides a roster spot on the Reds -- is a place to play in the field. Eugenio Suarez has developed into a superb third baseman, offensively and defensively, and the club views him as a fixture there. To expand their options, the Reds will have Senzel try other positions in camp.
Senzel has only played third base professionally but has amateur experience at shortstop and second base. The organization believes he's athletic enough to handle either spot. He will also get his first exposure to the outfield in the corner positions.
Of course, the Reds have players they like for all of those places too -- Scooter Gennett at second base, Jose Peraza at shortstop and Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and prospect Jesse Winker as corner outfielders. Cincinnati views Senzel's situation as similar to what Todd Frazier experienced when he first came up. Frazier played multiple infield and outfield spots in 2011-12 before a regular position opened for him at third base in '13.
At some point, Senzel will have to force the Reds to find him a place to play. In the meantime, Reds general manager Dick Williams has tempered some of the high expectations.
"We know a lot about him and what we've got in this player. We're very optimistic," Williams said on Jan. 25. "We think he should sit back and use this as an opportunity to soak up and enjoy learning from the Major League players. That's how we've talked to him about approaching it.
"As far as positions, we've got one of the best young third baseman in the Minor Leagues. We think he can play other positions. We're not in a hurry to move him around the diamond. This is a great time to expose him to other opportunities and make sure he's getting instruction around the infield."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.