The Cincinnati Reds promoted top prospect Nick Senzel from Triple-A Louisville on Friday before the first game of a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ball Park. He will hit second and start in center fielder in the 7:10 p.m. game.
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Senzel’s big-league debut will come almost three years after the Reds selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft.
To make room on the roster, the Reds optioned right-handed reliever Matt Bowman to Louisville. They also transferred second baseman Scooter Gennett (right groin strain) to the 60-day disabled list.
Senzel hit .312 with 28 home runs in 239 minor-league games, seeing time in the Rookie League with the Billings Mustangs, Single-A with the Dayton Dragons and Daytona Tortugas, Double-A with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Triple-A with the Bats.
After signing with the Reds in 2016, he spent only 10 games in Billings before moving to Dayton, where he hit .329 in 58 games with Dayton. He continued to produce at the higher levels, hitting .340 in 57 games with Pensacola in 2017 and .310 in 44 games last season with Louisville.
An illness and injuries slowed Senzel’s rise. He battled vertigo near the end of the 2017 season in Pensacola and again in May of 2018 with Louisville. He suffered a finger injury in June of 2018 with Louisville and missed the rest of the season. This season, he got a late start in Louisville after spraining his ankle in spring training, though by that time the Reds had already decided he would start this season in the minor leagues so he would have more time to learn to play center field.
Senzel, who attended Farragut High School in a suburb of Knoxville, Tenn., was a junior third baseman at the University of Tennessee when the Reds drafted him. He was 21 then and turns 24 on June 29.
“We’re really excited,” said Chris Buckley, then the Reds’ senior director of amateur scouting, in 2016. “This is the guy we wanted. He’s a very polished player, one of the better hitters, if not the best hitter, in the draft. We think his power will improve the more he plays. He’s a complete player, runs, throws and plays his position well.”