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Cincinnati Reds promote Jesse Winker to major leagues

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Outfield prospect was off to a hot start with Triple-A Louisville.

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds have promoted outfield prospect Jesse Winker to the major league roster. Here’s a quick take on what to expect.

Jesse Winker was drafted by the Reds in the compensation round of the 2012 draft from high school in Orlando, Florida. Highly-respected for his pure hitting skills in high school, he’s lived up to that billing in pro ball, hitting a composite .296/.399/.454 over 489 games, 1794 at-bats. He was off to another strong start in 2017, hitting .323/.421/.387 through 31 at-bats for Triple-A Louisville.

Winker ranked third on the Reds Top 20 prospects list pre-season with the following comment:

3) Jesse Winker, OF, Grade B+: Age 23, supplemental pick in 2012, hit .303/.397/.384 with 22 doubles, three homers, 59 walks, 59 strikeouts in 380 at-bats in Triple-A; hits .300 in his sleep and controls strike zone extremely well; power is to the alleys for doubles rather than over the fences for homers; question remains HR production; he’s physical enough to hit a lot more homers than he does but the swing is tailored for line drives; that may or may not change in the future and wrist/hand injuries haven’t helped; arm and range limit him to left field though he’s competent there; I want to give the power one more year to manifest and the grade reflects that optimism. ETA 2017.

Winker hit .302/.351/.491 in 53 at-bats in spring training. He has nothing left to prove in the minors and is ready to take on major league pitching.

Nothing in his profile has changed since the earlier report. At 6-3, 210, he’s big and strong enough to hit for power and he controls the strike zone well, but to this point in his career he’s been a line drive hitter, albeit a really good one. He lacks the range to play center and the arm to play right field regularly, but he’s a solid defender within his limits in left.

Projection systems give mixed results. PECOTA projects .264/.357/.427, while Steamer goes with .263/.345/.391. I think they underplay what he’s capable of; he seems like a .280 hitter to me, with more possible down the line.

I have been among the optimists about Winker’s power and given his age, it is possible more home runs will come in time, though perhaps in the classic age 27-28 window rather than any time soon. At a minimum he should be a solid source of OBP.

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