Photo of Nick Senzel by Danny Parker

Reds Draft Review 2016 Pt. 1

MLB lead draft analyst Jeff Ellis looks in at the Reds 2016 draft. The first part is focused on the Reds first selection and the number two overall pick Nick Senzel.

This past year saw the Reds have the largest draft pool of any team in the 2016 MLB draft. The Reds had this deep pool of funds thanks to having the second pick and also having the highest competitive balance selection, which functioned like a second first rounder. The Reds had three selections in the top 50 and 12 selections in the top 11 rounds.

The Reds first selection was Nick Senzel, from the University of Tennessee. This past year marked the second year in a row that a player from Tennessee went in the first round, after Christian Stewart went to the Tigers last year.

I was a big fan of Senzel, having him second on my final Big Board. He hit at every level in any setting. He looked like a player who had a plus hit tool and above average power. His position was the big question mark for Senzel. I heard mixed reports on what people thought of him defensively.  He was viewed as everything from a future outfielder to a plus defender at third.

Senzel received the highest bonus in the entire draft, and quickly showed why the Reds paid so much for him. The Reds dropped him into low A, after a little time in rookie ball. Once there, he proceeded to put up numbers that were on par with what he had done in the SEC all year. The one noticeable change was that his walk to strikeout rate went from 1.5 walks to one strikeout in college to one walk per 1.5 strikeouts in the minors. This is part of the reason I look at this particular data point because, as the talent gets better, batters with issues making contact see this issue exacerbated. This is not an area of concern for Senzel, but just something I wanted to note.

Senzel’s numbers and performance do nothing to temper my expectations of him being a future All Star. The scouting reports I received were also extremely high on Senzel. The hit tool was the best current one in the 2016 draft which, along with his approach at the plate, makes him a headache for pitchers, especially in the lower minors.

His power numbers continued to show improvement and will be something to watch next year. The power has always been there in batting practice but, over the past year, it has really started to show in game.

The third base position is often a hard one for teams to fill. I looked quickly on Fangraphs to see what positions from last year had the fewest players listed with a 2.0 fWAR or better. There is some room for error here, as some players are listed under multiple positions. Yet, third base was tied with shortstop for the second lowest total of 2.0 fWAR players or better. It feels like third is often overlooked when we write about positions that teams struggle to fill.

Senzel’s ability to play a position of scarcity with a plus hit tool and power potential makes him the top prospect in the Reds system, to me, by a significant margin. He should start the next year in high A, with the hope that he spends a month or two in AA to end the year. This is the same path his former teammate, Christian Stewart, also took. The last two years have been rough for Reds fans, but expect to see Senzel at third for your team in 2018.

Nick Senzel Cincinnati Reds

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