Vincej looking to build off breakout season

Reds' farmhand expecting big things in 2017

Vincej looking to build off breakout season

Zach Vincej is used to being overlooked.

The Reds' farmhand wasn't drafted until the 39th round in 2012 and isn't on the club's Top 30 Prospects list either.

But rather than let the lack of notoriety bother him, Vincej has used it as motivation and, as a result, is starting to gain more recognition.

"It just makes me work that much harder," Vincej said. "Nothing is ever given to me and I have to go out and show that I am a good player. I feel like the position where I'm at, I've grown a lot as a player and it's helped me, going through the struggles."

Vincej's growth and development culminated in a variety of ways this season. The 25-year-old shortstop won a Gold Glove and set career-highs in average (.281), doubles (24) and RBIs (47) in 121 games with Double-A Pensacola. Then he finished the season with an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League, where he flirted with a triple crown, hitting .352 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 20 games. 

Reds Top 30 Prospects

So what was the difference? What led Vincej to a breakout season in 2016?

An aggressive mindset and plenty of confidence. Vincej entered 2016 with a new mindset, approaching the game with a more aggressive mentality that certainly played dividends.

"I changed my mentality to always think aggressive, hitting and defensively," Vincej said. "I tinkered with a few things mechanically and once everything started to click, my confidence grew and grew."

Often overlooked in the past, Vincej produced at a level hard to ignore and was rewarded with an invite to Major League Spring Training.

"The greatest thing about going into this year is starting Spring Training with the Major League squad to learn that much more," Vincej said. "I just want to go out and learn a ton of things from the top guys."

A Spring Training invite is a huge opportunity for a young player and Vincej is certainly aware of that.

Spring will provide a great learning experience, but it will also provide a chance to perform on a bigger stage, in front of the Reds' top brass. Vincej understands the situation at hand and is looking forward to the challenge.

"I think every player needs to be open to learning different things," Vincej said. "There has to be a balance as well. You have to go out there and compete, show people you can play at that level and also be open to whatever kind of advice players or coaches have for you. There has to be a balance, you can't move up and you can't make it to the big leagues if you're not open to help."

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.