Nick Senzel Will Try His Hand At Shortstop
Nick Senzel may be one of the top third base prospects in baseball, but his spring will be spent in the middle infield instead of the hot corner.
The Reds are trying the 22-year-old Senzel at shortstop and second base this spring at his first in big league camp.
"He's expressed a desire to do it, and it makes sense for us. We've always said you let people play themselves off the premium spots," general manager Dick Williams said. "There's no reason to think he shouldn't get some time there and show us what he can do."
Senzel played shortstop at Knoxville's Farragut High but moved to third base at Tennessee in deference to former prep teammate A.J. Simcox. By the time Simcox was drafted in 2015, Senzel was already established at third base.
While in college, Senzel told his coach Dave Serrano that he could play shortstop. When the Volunteers lost their shortstop to injury in 2016, he stepped in.
"I kick myself now because he probably could have been an everyday shortstop," Serrano said. "What he did for us for a stretch of three weeks to a month (gave us) as good a defensive shortstop as we could have had."
Senzel excelled last season in the field as well as at the plate, where he hit .321/.391/.514 with 14 home runs in 119 games as he climbed to Double-A Pensacola. The second overall pick in 2016, he is expected to start the season at Triple-A Louisville.
"(It's) when you get into the season that you narrow the focus a little more," Williams said, "(so) that he's playing no more than two spots."
As for Senzel, shortstop is a position he's always felt he could play.
"It's just all about competing and challenging yourself," Senzel said. "They said, 'Take a lot of reps at short.' "
The Reds don't have an obvious shortstop for Louisville this season. Veteran Darnell Sweeney has played the position, as has Alex Blandino, but the organization's top shortstop prospects are all at lower levels.
What's more, 2015 third-rounder Blake Trahan and 23-year-old Cuban import Alfredo Rodriguez have not demonstrated that their bats are anywhere near big league ready. Meanwhile, younger shortstops such as Jeter Downs and Jose Israel Garcia have yet to play in a full-season league.