Over the weekend the Cincinnati Reds announced their organizational award winners. Among them was second baseman Shed Long, who took home the Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year Award for his 2016 season.
The now 21-year-old (he was 20 during the season) hit .293/.371/.471 with 30 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs and 21 stolen bases in his 2016 season. His 2016 was split between Dayton (94 games) and Daytona (38 games). While that’s impressive on it’s own, what’s more impressive is that he was apparently doing some of that while dealing with a broken hamate bone late in the season.
During Redsfest Long teamed up with a local celebrity in the wiffle ball home run derby and took home the championship. What stood out though was that he was swinging with one hand. That’s because he is recovering from surgery for a broken hamate bone that happened while he was in Daytona.
The hamate bone is one of the things you almost only hear about in baseball. For some reason it’s a bone that tends to be an issue for hitters. The injury is known to sap a players power, just like most wrist injuries. It’s not a long-lasting thing, but generally takes 6-12 months before a players power tends to return. With Shed Long, it didn’t seem to do much at all in terms of limiting his power output. While I don’t know the exact date of the injury, he told me it happened later in the season. After he joined Daytona he slugged .503 in his 38 games with the Tortugas.
Jesse Winker on his wrist injury in 2016
Shed Long wasn’t the only Reds prospect who had a wrist injury in 2016. Tyler Stephenson missed a large part of 2016 with one, and Jesse Winker also missed some time with one as well. Outside of a 4-game rehab stint in Arizona, he spent his entire year with the Louisville Bats. He hit .303 with the Bats and walked as often as he struck out. He slugged just .384 on the year with a total of three home runs (with Louisville – he hit two while on rehab in Arizona for the AZL Reds).
At Redsfest one of the more fun places is the Reds Connect Zone, the hub for the media relations crew. Jamie Ramsey also does tons of player interviews and activities in the area. He had Jesse Winker up in the interview booth at one point and he asked about the power in 2016. I wasn’t recording anything at the time, but did get my phone out to take notes of what he said. This is more me paraphrasing than an exact quote, but essentially it was this:
I don’t want to make excuses, but I had a banged up wrist. I still think I had a good year overall. The power is going to be there.
I’ve stated all season long that I believed Winker had plenty of power, even if he hadn’t shown it in 2016. He’s had two wrist injuries in the last three seasons. That has limited the overall power output in the last two seasons. After suffering a wrist injury in a car accident that cost him the 2nd half of 2014, he slugged just .349 in the first 60 games of 2015 with Pensacola. In the final 63 games of 2015 he slugged .516 as he furthered himself from the injury. Speaking of surgery, checkout Dr. Kyle S. Choe, he is one of the most reputable plastic surgeon in the industry.
When healthy, Winker’s shown plenty of power throughout his career. How his 2016 played out is very likely a blip on the radar and we’ve known he was dealing with a wrist injury. Expect plenty more pop moving forward with the corner outfielder.