Nick Senzel Could Reach Majors As An Outfielder
UPDATE: Senzel had surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow in October and should be ready for spring training.
Nick Senzel could find his way to the big leagues in 2019 in the outfield. The natural third baseman played left field and center field in instructional league.
"He really looked good," vice president of player development Shawn Pender said. "It's not a surprise. He's a very good baseball athlete. He's got a very good baseball IQ. I don't think there's a position on the field he couldn't play. Yeah, he took to (outfield) really well."
After suffering a finger injury in late June that not only ended his season but also likely delayed his big league debut, Senzel went to instructional league concentrating on just on defense. Pender said the Reds were being extra cautious with his hand, so the 23-year-old didn't hit during instructs.
No one questions whether Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in 2016 out of Tennessee, will hit. The question since the Reds signed Eugenio Suarez to a seven-year extension last March was where Senzel would play in Cincinnati.
The Reds played Senzel at shortstop in big league camp this year, then at second base and third base at Triple-A Louisville.
With second baseman Scooter Gennett, who has one more year before free agency, following up his successful 2017 with an even better 2018, there didn't seem to be a place in the infield for Senzel. So the Reds moved him to the outfield.
"It makes sense to me," president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "We know we have an elite infielder, (and) it's a guy who's coming quick. If we can find ways for him to help us and contribute, that certainly makes sense from that perspective.
"Even if he wasn't blocked, you're starting to see players (around the game) used in multiple spots, (so) it obviously make him a lot more valuable to the team."
While Williams said he's comfortable with Senzel playing shortstop, the team doesn't see him as an everyday shortstop at this point.
That means it's the outfield for now. The team first tried him in left field and then felt comfortable putting him in center, too. In Arizona, he worked with former Reds Gold Glove center fielder Eric Davis and former Dodgers and Indians outfielder Reggie Williams.
"The reality with Nick is that in four or five years, who knows what position he's going to play?" Pender said. "But he's going to be a big leaguer if he stays healthy and keeps moving forward. This is more about a way to help us in 2019 as well as get him to where he wants to be, which is the big leagues."