Newest Cincinnati Reds rookie: ‘New wave is coming’

Jesse Winker set to become fifth Red to debut in 2017

Louisville Bats manager Delino DeShields pulled outfielder Jesse Winker aside inside the visitor’s clubhouse at Huntington Park in Columbus on Thursday and told him the news.

“You’re going to the big leagues,” DeShields said.

“Are you messing with me?” Winker asked.

It was no joke. The Cincinnati Reds drafted Winker in the supplemental first round with the 49th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He has played in 489 minor league games in the last six seasons. Baseball America ranked him the organization’s sixth-best prospect in January.

MORE

• Brewers slow Reds' momentum

• Reds aiming for milestone

Now Winker, 23, gets a chance in Cincinnati. The Reds sent reliever Barrett Astin back to Louisville on Friday to make room for Winker. It’s likely to be a short stay. The Reds needed an extra bat for the weekend. The starting outfield of Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler won’t change.

The Reds' Jose Peraza, left, bumps hips with Jesse Winker during batting practice on Friday, April 14, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Caption
The Reds' Jose Peraza, left, bumps hips with Jesse Winker during batting practice on Friday, April 14, 2017, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Credit: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

That didn’t matter to Winker. As he said more than once in an interview before the second game of a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, he will do whatever the team asks.

“This is what you dream of as a kid: getting your opportunity,” Winker said. “I’ve kind of laddered my way up through the organization. Now I’m at the top, and I get to help the big club win. It’s really, really cool. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Right now, I’m soaking it all in, and I’m ready to go play.”

MORE

• Garrett brings his ‘A’ game

• Stephenson better in second appearance

• Gum chewing helps Suarez relax

Winker called his parents first Thursday night. He said his mom had flights booked to Cincinnati within the hour. His mom and dad and two brothers planned to attend the game Friday.

Last season, Winker hit .303 in 106 games with Louisville. He hit .323 in eight games this month with the Bats.

“I was seeing the ball well and hitting it hard,” Winker said. “That’s all I try to do. Wherever it falls, it falls. I just try to do that over the course of 500 to 600 at-bats. It’s worked for me so far. I try to keep it simple.”

Winker visited the Reds clubhouse in the winter and tried to imagine where his locker would be when he earned the call for the first time. He discovered Friday he’s locker neighbors with starting pitcher Amir Garrett. Four Reds have made their big-league debuts this season. When Winker plays, he’ll be the fifth.

“I just feel this new wave is coming,” Winker said. “We’ve all been working hard. It’s going to be a cool year for all of us.”

About the Author

ajc.com