The 2017 season was the last one that will see Jesse Winker as a prospect. He would finish the year a few days and a few at-bats short of no longer qualifying for prospect lists. The Reds would start Winker out in Triple-A Louisville. A week later he would make his Major League debut in Cincinnati. It was a short stay, though, as he would get two at-bats. The second at-bat, though, was a 2-run double. When he returned to the Bats, he struggled for the final 12 games of the month. He hit just .225/.289/.275 in that span. Overall he would hit .268/.349/.324 in April with more walks than strikeouts, but without much power.
Things turned around in May. Over the first two weeks of the month he would hit .340 with two doubles, his first home run of the season and seven walks. Things were even better in the next 14 games for Jesse Winker. The outfielder hit .380/.439/.520 with four more doubles and another home run. In 115 plate appearances he would smack six extra-base hits, walk 13 times and strikeout just 17 times.
June started out slowly for Jesse Winker. Over the first two weeks he would hit just .189 with no extra-base hits. He did walk more than he struck out in that stretch, but the hits just weren’t falling in. He caught fire over the next four games, though, going 9-16 with five doubles and four walks. The next day he was in Tampa Bay with the Reds. He would go 2-9 with a double and two RBI before heading back to Louisville. Over the last week with the Bats he would go 3-14. That four game stretch carried the month as he finished with a .284/.367/.373 line with nine walks and 11 strikeouts.
The slump continued into July for Jesse Winker, who hit .222 over the first five games of the month. He was recalled to the big leagues for the next 11 days. There was only one start in that stretch as he would go 1-5 with four walks in five games. When he returned to Triple-A he went off. In the final 12 games of the month he would hit .372/.449/.512 with six doubles. It was a hot-and-cold month, but finished with a .328/.414/.426 line overall.
When August rolled around Jesse Winker joined the big league club for the rest of the season. Things started out well for the then 23-year-old. In his first four games he hit two home runs and had a .313 average. He would go into a slump after that for the next week, hitting just .118 with no extra-base hits. As quickly as that slump came on, it disappeared and Winker went on a tear for two weeks. From August 11th through the 24th he hit .440 and slugged .720 over 11 games played. Unfortunately, he would spend the final week of the month on the disabled list with a hip injury.
That injury kept him on the disabled list into the second week of September. Winker returned to the lineup on the 12th and spent most of the next next 10 days starting, going 9-34 (.265) with two doubles and two home runs. However, from that point forward in the season he only started two more games, pinch hitting in six others and going 5-13 in that stretch.
For all 2017 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Jesse Winker Spray Chart
Jesse Winker Scouting Report
Hitting | This is where Jesse Winker shines. He can use the entire field, understands the zone and has a high rate of contact. His hit tool is above-average and could even be plus in the future.
Power | This is probably the most divisive part of Winker’s game. During the past he’s shown more power than he has the last few seasons. In the Major Leagues, with the “juiced baseball” he showed significantly more power than he did in the Minors during 2017. In the long-term, I believe he’ll hit for average-ish power, showing 15-20 home runs. Perhaps more if the baseball doesn’t change.
Running | He’s a below-average runner.
Arm | While his arm has improved over the years, it’s still a tad below-average.
Defense | He profiles best as a left fielder because of his arm, but the Reds have been splitting his time in both left and right field. He’s a slightly below-average fielder.
At the plate is where Jesse Winker will bring his value. He projects to hit for a good average and is likely to draw plenty of walks, giving him a high on-base percentage, too. Just how much power he hits for can take him from being a good hitter to being a very good hitter. He’s going to give back some of that value on defense as a corner outfielder, though. Winker is about as safe of a prospect the Reds have had in a while because it’s tough to see how he won’t hit, but his defensive position and questions about the power limit could limit his ceiling somewhat. The bat could be All-Star caliber at it’s best. If he winds up in left field he’ll provide more defensive value than if the organization keeps doing what they did in 2017 and play him in right field more frequently.