When the Cincinnati Reds drafted third baseman Nick Senzel second overall in the 2016 draft, everyone was saying that the team had just picked the most polished hitter in the draft. Nearly everyone felt that he was the guy who could move through the minor leagues the quickest from the entire draft, at least from the position player side of things.
Then he headed out to Billings and struggled to get things going. In his first nine games he managed to go just 3-29. He was hitting just .103/.250/.138 for the Mustangs, but he had five walks and just four strikeouts in that time frame. His batting average on balls in play was just .115, a sign that he had been incredibly unlucky in that span.
In the 10th game with the Mustangs he went 2-4 with a walk and he was promoted to Dayton the next day. He hasn’t stopped hitting since. In 10 games with the Dragons he’s gone 14-40 with six doubles, five walks, six strikeouts and seven stolen bases. He’s posted a .350/.435/.500 line since his promotion.
Getting an in-person look at Senzel in Dayton at the start of the month a few things really stood out. First, his bat is quick. He has outstanding barrel awareness and the ball jumps off of his bat. Both of those things were expected based on scouting reports and what I had been able to see on video. What I hadn’t expected is how fast he was. He had good stolen base totals at Tennessee as a freshman and as a junior, stealing 14 and 25 in those seasons and was caught just three times in each. Since turning pro he already has 10 steals in just 20 games played. Reports coming out of college were more that he was average to slightly above-average – getting by more on being a smart runner than a speedster. He’s shown himself to be faster than that as a professional.
The slow start for Senzel was likely related to the time off between the end of his college season and his start in Billings. Now that he’s settled back in he is showing everything that it seemed everyone thought he would. And then some.