GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Many Reds fans who were greatly anticipating the arrival of top prospect Nick Senzel as the Opening Day starting center fielder were likely disappointed that he was among the round of spring cuts on Friday. Senzel, the overall No. 6 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline,
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Many Reds fans who were greatly anticipating the arrival of top prospect Nick Senzel as the Opening Day starting center fielder were likely disappointed that he was among the round of spring cuts on Friday. Senzel, the overall No. 6 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, was certainly not thrilled himself but showed maturity about the situation.
Senzel, who played the infield exclusively in college and the Minor Leagues, sought to replace Billy Hamilton as the regular center fielder. But he lost out to Scott Schebler, who also had a very strong camp.
“What's next is that you just move on and continue to get better,” Senzel said. “It was disappointing, the news, because I took the challenge head on and learned a new position. I think what gets lost in this is I had a chance to win the job, and I didn't win the job. That's how I take it. Scotty did what he needed to do to win the job, that's how I kind of see it. He played well this spring and he's got experience up in the big leagues and he's played center before and he played a great job. I didn't win it.”
Even after it was learned Saturday that second baseman Scooter Gennett will miss 8-12 weeks with a right groin strain, the Reds opted not to move Senzel back to the infield to play a position where he has experience. He will continue to play center field at Triple-A Louisville.
“He’s going to continue on the great trajectory that he’s on,” Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said.
Although Senzel’s agent, Joel Wolfe, criticized the Reds for making a decision based on service time concerns, Senzel did not show any hard feelings towards the club. By delaying Senzel’s promotion by at least a couple of weeks, the club gets an extra year before he can become a free agent.
“It's hard for me to comment on that because the business side and all that is their job, but I just know he's trying to back me and support me,” Senzel said. “That's really all I've got on that.”
Barring the unforeseen, Senzel will be in the big leagues sooner than later. That much seems certain. What is unknown is what happens once the 23-year-old actually steps onto a Major League field. After this spring, the Reds have a good idea of what they’re expecting.
“What's incredible about it, coming into it, thinking that a guy who has never played center field before made that much progress in such a short period of time and made the decision that difficult,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I think to put that in perspective, how difficult he made that and how close he is, it says so much about how he went about it and the player that he is and the athlete that he is.”
It will be important for Senzel to show that he can stay healthy, however, which has been a question. He was limited to 44 games at Louisville in 2018. In May, he missed a month because he suffered from vertigo. In June, he suffered a season-ending fracture in his right index finger and needed surgery. In fall instructional league, he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
Senzel batted .308/.300/.462 in 12 Cactus League games with six of his 12 hits being doubles. Defensively, he made most of the plays in center field and looked comfortable.
“I felt like I played it pretty good this spring,” Senzel said. “There's only a certain amount of games and innings I could have gotten in. I feel like I was learning it pretty quickly and that's just thanks to the coaches that helped me and mentors like [Eric Davis] and [Jeff] Pickler and even my teammates too.”
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.