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Winker, Garrett take organizational honors

Reds prospects recognized as top position player, pitcher for 2015

SAN FRANCISCO -- Both Jesse Winker and Amir Garrett took steps forward in their development in 2015, and the Reds prospects both closed their year on a strong note.

Winker, an outfielder for Double-A Pensacola and Cincinnati's No. 1 prospect, was named the organization's Position Player Prospect of the Year by MLB Pipeline on Thursday. Garrett, the No. 3 prospect in the organization and with Class A Advanced Daytona, was named the organization's Pitching Prospect of the Year.

• Reds' Top 30 Prospects

To be considered for the honors, players must have been on their organization's Top 30 Prospects list at some point this year, and spent at least half the season in the Minors.

In 123 games, Winker batted .282/.390/.433 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs. Over his final 32 games, the 22-year-old batted .357 with nine homers. At one point in August, Winker tied a Pensacola record with a homer in five straight games.

"One of the things that really impressed me is the maturity he showed this season," Reds player development director Jeff Graupe said. "He really took the next step after having struggles in the first half. Jesse fought through it, but really stuck with the approach that works for him."

MLB Pipeline ranked Winker as baseball's No. 29 overall prospect. He was taken 49th overall in the 2012 Draft, during compensation Round A.

"I was also impressed with his improved defense," Graupe said. "He took it to heart and worked to get better. He also made improvements with his baserunning."

Video: Top Prospects: Amir Garrett, LHP, Reds

Over his 26 starts, the left-handed Garrett was 9-7 with a 2.44 ERA. The 23-year-old allowed 117 hits, walked 55 and struck out 133 over 140 1/3 innings with a 1.23 WHIP.

"Amir just kept getting better and better," Graupe said. "Every time we thought he might plateau, he showed us something else."

That was clear in the second half, when Garrett was 7-2 with a 1.79 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over his last 12 starts. During the opening round of the Florida State League playoffs on Sept. 8, he allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts. MLB Pipeline ranked Garrett as the No. 75 prospect overall.

Garrett was selected in the 22nd round of the 2011 Draft while he was a two-sport star who also played college basketball at St. John's. He transferred to Cal State Northridge after the 2012-13 season, but he gave up basketball before the 2014 season and has seen his pitching performances flourish the last two years.

"He really improved with his in-game decision-making," Graupe said. "He turned over the lineup more and more efficiently. His slider and changeup both made big strides."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Cincinnati Reds, Jesse Winker, Amir Garrett