Nick Senzel is the Cincinnati Reds top prospect. In his Minor League career he’s played second base and third base. Last season he played in one game at shortstop, too. Where he hasn’t played is center field. At least in games.
With Eugenio Suarez entrenched at third base for the next six seasons, and Scooter Gennett locked in at second base for 2019, the Reds began exploring other options for Nick Senzel in 2018. His season was cut short by a finger injury mid-season that required surgery. But once he was healthy the team had him in instructional league to try and transition to the outfield. Left field and center field were the target destinations. While the corner outfield is crowded with Yasiel Puig, Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, and Matt Kemp, center field was and is a bit more open. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted this morning that manager David Bell says that Nick Senzel is the favorite to win the center field job.
Bell said today that he expects to get Winker 500 at-bats and Senzel is favorite to win CF. https://t.co/rTVee3gNJ4
— John Fay (@johnfayman) February 18, 2019
This is a very interesting comment for a few different reasons. First is that even before games, David Bell seems confident that Nick Senzel is his best option in center for 2019. He has spent time watching him take fly balls in the outfield. He’s made comments this spring, such as Nick Senzel in center “is more than possible”.
The second reason this is very interesting, and maybe I’m reading into it a bit too much, is that being the favorite to win the center field job certainly sounds like the plan is to have him up from day one. That goes along with Dick Williams comment of “I anticipate putting the best team out there that we can” when asked about Nick Senzel and opening day.
The biggest story of the spring is what happens with Senzel and center field. Getting his bat into the lineup would be huge. It would give the lineup absolutely no weak spots beyond the pitchers slot. His addition may give the Reds the best offense in the National League. The defense is the question, and it’s almost certainly going to be a downgrade from Billy Hamilton. But if he can be solid out there, or even just not terrible, it’s very likely to be an upgrade to the team overall. And possibly a big one.