Reds prospect Jesse Winker eager to compete for roster spot

Most hitters see San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and get bummed out. Those that face the Indians’ Andrew Miller out of the bullpen cringe. Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin is no day at the beach either.

All three are tough left-handed pitchers that are an all-day job for a veteran right-handed hitter but Jesse Winker, the Reds left-handed hitting prospect, has enjoyed facing them.

Winker has faced all three in his three spring outings so far. It hasn’t spoiled his spring fun.

“I don’t want to be the guy who just plays against righties, anyway,” Winker said. “This has been a great start to my spring facing some good lefties this spring. Obviously, I haven’t had quite the results I’d like against them . … Seeing those guys early is only going to help me in the long run.”

The long run is still ahead of the 23-year old, who hit .303 in 106 games at Triple-A Louisville last year, his first at that level. Some are concerned he only hit three home runs last year.

“We talk about power,” manager Bryan Price said. “I want to see him continue to hit for average. I’d like to see him press us to consider him.”

Scott Schebler is the front runner in right field. Adam Duvall is coming off an All-Star season in left. Billy Hamilton played a Gold Glove worthy center field, while leading the National League in stolen bases.

Winker would most likely have to win a starting job to break camp for Cincinnati.

It serves little purpose for a prospect like Winker to sit on the bench. He needs to play regularly.

Winker, the Reds No. 3 prospect according to, hit 16 home runs at Dayton in 2013. He hit 15 in 2014 at Bakersfield and Pensacola.

Winker missed time with a concussion in 2014 and was shut down in July with a sprained ligament in his right wrist suffered in a car accident.

Winker returned in time for the Arizona Fall League and hit .338 in 19 games with three home runs.

Now the task for Winker this spring is to compete for a roster spot and continue to get batter every day.

“I’m trying to get better in all aspects of my game,” Winker said. “I’m not focusing on one aspect of my game. I’m trying to take it to the next level — defensively, on the bases, hitting.”

In spite of the sparse numbers (1-for-6) through Monday Winker is enjoying himself.

“It’s going good. I’m getting better every day, enjoying myself and having fun,” Winker said. “As a ball player that’s all you can control and all I’m doing.”

Winker was drafted by the Reds in 2012 with supplemental pick after the first round. He was the 49th player chosen as compensation for Ramon Hernandez when he signed with the Dodgers.

Cozart scratched from start: Shortstop Zack Cozart was expected to make his spring debut Tuesday, but scratched from the lineup after morning rain. Zach Vincej started in his place.

”We have five hours before we start,” Price said Tuesday morning. “I don’t want to put these guys in a bubble. He had an injury. He had some issues with that last year I’m not going to be reckless but I wouldn’t put anyone on a field that was a swamp.”

Reed makes strong spring debut: Cody Reed pitched two perfect innings in his spring debut Monday.

“He’s competing for a spot both in the rotation but if we’re a better team with him in our bullpen, we have to consider that,” Price said. “It wouldn’t be a long-term commitment. We believe he is a starting pitcher. That’s what you want to do — make an impression. That was a great way to start spring training.”


Reds at Brewers, 3:05 p.m., 1360

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