Reds call up Nick Senzel, make roster moves

The Cincinnati Reds are the oldest professional baseball team in the world, founded in 1881. The team is celebrating its 150th season this year.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Cincinnati Reds are the oldest professional baseball team in the world, founded in 1881. The team is celebrating its 150th season this year.

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The Reds have had a shaky start to the season, but what else is new. As of May 15, we sit in last place in the NL Central with a record six games below .500 at 18-24.  

However, it is early in the season and, at the end of April there is a lot for Reds fans to be hopeful for. Luis Castillo was named MLB pitcher of the month for April, and Jesse Winker, despite a slow start, has been making his name known around the league with a team leading 8 home runs in the first full month of the long baseball season. Castillo was also announced to be the leader in the first Cy Young award poll, an end-of-year award given to the NL and AL’s best pitchers.

Surprisingly though, the issues that the Reds have faced early in the season have came on the offensive side of the ball. The Reds pitching staff has been stellar with a combined team ERA of 3.28, which is the second lowest in the MLB and the lowest in all of the National League (lower is better). Their pitching has been great, but the Reds are still without Alex Wood, a very good starting pitcher acquired from the Dodgers this off-season. Wood has been on the Injured Reserve all season but eventually he will return, and, when he does, the Reds pitching may be even better than it is right now.

The reason why the Reds still sit at the bottom of the NL central is because their hitting has been nothing short of awful. The Reds combined team batting average as of May second is .210, which is ranked worst in all of the MLB. With that low of an average, it’s surprising that the Reds have already won more than ten games this season.

The hitting hasn’t been good, but that may be a result of the loss of their best hitter from the 2018 season, Scooter Gennett. Gennett has been out the whole season after suffering an injury in spring training. When Gennett will return is unknown, but the Reds are definitely a better team with him on the field.

Courtesy Tom Hagerty/ Flickr
Nick Senzel pictured in 2017 playing with the Daytona Turtugas, a minor league affiliate of the Reds in the class A-Advanced Florida State League. Senzel played for the Tortugas in 2017, and was moved up to the AAA level Louisville Bats in 2018, where he played until early this season when he was called up to the MLB.

Many players have not been producing on offense for the Reds this season, the two most notable ones being Scott Schebler and Yasiel Puig. The Reds acquired Puig this past December in a trade that sent Reds pitcher Homer Bailey to the Dodgers and also acquired centerfielder Matt Kemp and some utility infielders. The Reds and the people of Cincinnati expected big things out of Puig considering he was able to help the Dodgers win the NLCS in back to back years. However, Puig’s performance has underwhelmed everyone in Cincinnati up to this point. He is batting .184. with only 4 home runs and 15 RBI’s. Despite the bad hitting line, Puig has been a solid defender in right field, making several highlight plays.

Scott Schebler on the other hand has had arguably the worst start than any other Reds player thus far. Schebler is currently batting .132, with only two home runs and seven RBIs. Schebler really has nothing to show on defence either, not making any spectacular plays or anything to show he can’t be replaced in Center Field, and it appears as if the Reds are looking to replace him.

On Tuesday, April 30, the news came about that the Reds are looking to call up top prospect Nick Senzel for their next homestand against the San Francisco Giants starting Friday May, 3.

“We want to help that outfield defense a little bit. We want to help the offense. We think Nick is ready to do that,” Reds President of of Baseball Operations Dick Williams said.

Senzel is a natural Third Baseman, but the Reds have had him in Center Field for this season so far to fill the shoes of Billy Hamilton, who was lost in free agency to the Kansas City Royals. Senzel is the 5th overall prospect according to MLB pipeline and the Reds’ number one overall prospect.

Reds fans have been waiting anxiously for Senzel to finally make his major league debut. Senzel was the number two overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft out of Tennessee. In the 2016 draft, many analysts called Senzel the best offensive player in the draft. He has torn up the minors with his crazy ability to hit, however, his route to the majors has been slowed down by injury and trying to make the transition from Third base to Center Field. And finally, on Friday, he made his MLB debut.

“I knew I was ready last year. But obviously it got cut short [by injury]. I’m here now, and I couldn’t be happier,” Senzel said.

In Friday’s game, Senzel was the starting Centerfielder and batting second behind Joey Votto. He had five at bats and went one for five with a single in the ninth inning and two walks. Senzel also made a very good catch on the run in the outfield, taking away an extra base hit from Giants Centerfielder Steven Duggar. The Reds still managed to lose this game, despite being up 10-3 late in the game.

Many people were happy with Senzel’s debut, but Saturday he had an even better game. On Saturday Senzel had 3 at bats with one hit and one walk. Senzels one hit was a homerun over the right field wall, his first career home run and first career RBI. Senzel also made a few catches in Center on Saturday, showing that the move from the infield to center is no issue.

After Senzel’s good first few games, the Reds made some roster moves to make room to keep Senzel in the everyday lineup. On Saturday the struggling center fielder Scott Schebler was optioned to AAA in Louisville. Also on Saturday, outfielder Matt Kemp was released after a struggling season an apparent locker room drama. Kemp is an MLB veteran, and with a $25 million contract and at 34 years old, his future is unclear.

Senzel was called up to stay, and, after only a few games, he is already making an impact, helping the Reds in the fight for the NL central.

As of May 15, Senzel has 3 home runs and 7 RBIs with a batting average of .217 in his first 46 at bats, according to BaseballReference.com.