Surprise, Winker take down Peoria in Fall League
Saguaros win 8-2, led by Reds prospect's double, solo homer
Before Wednesday, Jesse Winker had gone nearly three months without appearing in a game. He last played July 17 with Double-A Pensacola before a torn tendon in his right wrist forced him onto the disabled list.
The layoff hasn't slowed Winker down, however. Making his Arizona Fall League debut Wednesday, the outfielder homered and doubled to help lead Surprise to an 8-2 victory at Peoria.
Winker, Reds No. 2 prospect, went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs. He said he felt good at the plate, but mostly was just excited to be able to get on the field again.
"It's tough sitting there watching for 50 some games that I had to be on disabled list," Winker said. "I did learn a lot while I was there in Double-A just watching. I'm very thankful to [Pensacola manager] Delino DeShields for teaching me. I just wanted to have fun today. It was a huge relief to get back out on the field."
Winker injured his wrist July 11 in a car accident. After trying to play through the injury for a few days, he underwent an MRI that revealed the tear. The injury didn't require surgery, but it did prematurely end what had been a promising regular season.
Winker, ranked No. 40 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list , began the year with Class A Advanced Bakersfield and earned a promotion after hitting .317/.426/.580 with 13 home runs in 53 games with the Blaze. He also represented the Reds in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and played in 21 games with Pensacola before going on the disabled list.
Now, Winker has a chance to make up some of that lost time in the AFL. He said his hand has fully healed and his performance at the plate Wednesday showed it hasn't cost him any power.
Winker hit an RBI double off right-hander Jamie Schultz in his first plate appearance, capping Surprise's three-run first inning against the Peoria starter. After drawing a walk his next time up, he drove a 2-1 fastball the other way for a home run off right-hander Mitch Harris in the fourth inning.
Winker said his goal was to put together good at bats Wednesday. He did just that and, as a bonus, ended up with a pair of extra-base hits.
"I just wanted to put some good swings on balls," he said. "I happened to find a gap and happened to get one out."
The Saguaros offense also got a boost from two of Winker's Pensacola teammates. First baseman Kyle Waldrop went 3-for-5 with a run and two RBIs. Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean added a single. The trio of Blue Wahoos is also joined by DeShields, who is serving as the Saguaros manager this season.
Winker said he's enjoying reuniting with a few of his Pensacola teammates.
"It's a blast," he said. "We all deserve coming here. It's very cool to get to play with these guys and wear our Reds uniforms."
Led by Winker and Waldrop, the Saguaros scored seven runs in the first four innings. After getting the early lead, their pitching staff made sure it stood up. Right-hander Keith Couch held the Javelinas to two runs on four hits in four innings to pick up the win.
Peoria's offense was led by shortstop Raul Mondesi, the Royals' top prospect and No. 38 on the Top 100. The 19-year old went 2-for-4 with a double, a run and a stolen base. Right fielder Jordan Smith added a home run.
But Peoria could not repeat its late-game heroics from Tuesday, when it scored three runs in the eighth inning to come back and defeat Surprise on Opening Day. Instead, five Saguaros relievers combined for five scoreless innings Wednesday, allowing just two hits and two walks, to close out the victory.
Winker said getting their first win of the fall in his first game back felt awesome.
"Yesterday we played well enough to win and we came out with a tough loss," Winker said. "It's nice to get a win today."