Senzel out to follow lead of top '15 Draft picks

Reds not rushing top prospect, who hopes to reach Majors year after pro debut

Senzel out to follow lead of top '15 Draft picks

CINCINNATI -- From the 2015 MLB Draft, No. 1 pick Dansby Swanson, No. 2 pick Alex Bregman and No. 7 pick Andrew Benintendi all reached the Major Leagues by '16, the season after they were drafted.

The Reds' top prospect per MLBPipeline.com, third baseman Nick Senzel, certainly noticed.

"All three guys, I've played against them in the SEC," said Senzel, who was the No. 2 overall pick from the University of Tennessee in June and received a $6.5 million bonus. "To see them in their first year make it up -- as a player, that makes you hungry because I've played against those guys. You're happy for them, but at the same time, it puts a belief in your eyes that you can try to do the same thing."

Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto and Trea Turner are other examples of prospects who went the express route to the Majors the year after turning pro. Of course, there are several more prospects being brought along slowy, for various reasons.

Top Prospects: Senzel, CIN

"It's not always up to you. You have to follow the plan and stick with it," Senzel said.

Senzel, 21, is likely going to have an accelerated path to the big leagues, but Reds general manager Dick Williams didn't expect him to have him on such an express route that he would be debuting in the Majors at some point this season.

"I wouldn't put that out there by any means," Williams said. "We're not counting on him for '17. We don't need him for '17. That's a lot to ask. You could make a case. He finished in [Class A] Dayton. The most likely scenario would be to open at High [Class] A. But I wouldn't lock ourselves into that. It's possible it could be Double-A."

The Reds have run comparisons to recent players who have moved quickly to the Majors and saw a split. Some started their second pro season in Advanced Class A and moved up incrementally. Others went straight to Double-A.

Buckley on picking Senzel

"The guys that went straight to Double-A spent the same amount of time in Double-A, but when they got to Triple-A, they stayed a lot longer," Williams said.

Because his timing was off from taking a month off while going through the Draft process, Senzel batted .152 in his 10 games for rookie-level Billings. But he was still promoted to Dayton and was more comfortable as he batted .329/.415/.567 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in 58 games.

Heading into 2017, Senzel has been preparing for the toll of playing a full pro season and working on his defense. The transition from college to professional, he said, was initially a shock to the body.

"I'd like to conquer the obstacles and the challenges they give me and succeed every place I'm at and hopefully move up the ladder," Senzel said.

Day on Reds' Draft pick

The Reds have Eugenio Suarez at third base and were pleased with the 25-year-old's first year at the position as he hit 21 homers and improved defensively after a shaky beginning. At some point, a decision will have to be made about the future of the spot -- but it's not imminent.

Williams and the Reds were very happy with Senzel's first season in the organization and are optimistic for what's ahead.

"It was great," Williams said. "We just have to make sure everybody keeps it in perspective. It was a great first pro year. But the Minors are for confronting failure and overcoming failure."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.