The season got off to a rough start for Cincinnati Reds top position prospect Jesse Winker. In April and May the outfielder showed off good plate discipline, walking 24 times with just 27 strikeouts in 181 plate appearances, but struggled to find the grass when he did make contact. In the first two months of the season he would post a .229/.343/.314 line.
One of the big reasons that he was having struggles, as I wrote for subscribers back in the middle of May was that he was hitting groundballs at an extremely high rate, much higher than he had ever hit before. If you didn’t read that, you should probably subscribe today so you don’t miss out on things like that in the future.
Things began to turn around in June and July. His groundball rate returned to his career norms and the production began to show up. In 205 plate appearances he continued to show the plate discipline that’s helped him become one of the better hitters in minor league baseball since being drafted, walking 27 times with just 34 strikeouts. The hits also began to show up as he posted a .280/.376/.434 line. The power wasn’t quite back yet, but we know how tough it is to hit for power to right field in Pensacola, too.
In August the left hander has simply gone to another level. From August 1st through August 10th he would hit .333/.429/.472, but that was just a teasing of what would be coming. In the five games since then the outfielder has hit a home run in each game and posted a .526/.550/1.368 line. The first four home runs were to the opposite field, but last night he turned on an inside pitch and crushed it to right-center. His five-game home run streak ties a Blue Wahoos team record that was set earlier this year by Kyle Skipworth and is one short of the Southern League record that is held by former big leaguer Derrek Lee.
Here’s some video that includes the home run that started the run.
The incredible run of home runs has pushed Jesse Winker to the top of the Cincinnati Reds farm system in home runs, leading the way with 13 long balls. That’s one better than Phillip Ervin who has led the organization nearly the entire season.
His second half turnaround, one where he’s hit .315/.406/.552 has calmed any doubts that one would have had after a slow start. The adjustments were made by the 21-year-old and he’s helped lead Pensacola in the second half into playoff contention as they currently sit half-a-game back of first place with three weeks left in the season.