If you read prospect coverage at Minor League Ball, ESPN, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, or really any of the other great sites the internet offers, you'll know that players tagged as future leftfielders aren't typically viewed as valuable commodities. For good reason, teams and evaluators want up-the-middle talent that can impact the game on both sides of the ball. In fantasy baseball, however, players get no credit for defensive ability and actually in 95% of leagues it makes no difference which spot an outfielder occupies on the diamond. For that reason, smart owners can take advantage and acquire players that the majority of top-prospect lists have overlooked. Today we will highlight one of those players, Reds' outfield prospect Jesse Winker.
Weight: 210 lbs
On 40-man roster: No
DOB: 08/17/1993 (Age-19 season)
After a standout amateur career at Olympia HIgh School in Orlando, the Reds selected Winker 49th overall in the 2012 draft and signed him away from a Florida commitment with a $1 million bonus. Despite being a supplemental first round pick and signing for seven figures, the left-handed outfielder entered pro ball with relatively no fanfare. In his pro debut Winker did all he could to create some buzz, hitting .338 with a league-best .443 on base percentage, but still he garnered little mainstream attention this offseason. This year Cincinnati sent him to Dayton for his full season assignment and he has not missed a beat. As of this morning, Winker is hitting .282/.377/.476 with 16 homeruns, a total that ranks eighth in the league. Those numbers are solid for any prospect, but for a 19-year old in a pitcher friendly league and park, this season season should be be considered special and hopefully gain him some much deserved attention.
The Scouting Report
I can tell you that Jesse Winker has one of the prettiest swings in the minor leagues, but rather than take my word for it you can watch this video from RedsMinorLeagues.com.
In the video you can see the things that scouts love about him. Winker's hands work really well, and he barrels a ton of balls with a short, quick, swing. Also evident in the video is that he doesn't have much load to his swing, and his follow through is rather flat, two traits that limit his power potential a bit. That matches with the reports, most of which call Winker a line-drive hitter with average power potential. What sets him apart from most other hitters his age is an advanced approach and solid pitch recognition. Rarely does Winker takes himself out of at bats by extending the zone, and his approach allows him to exploit mistakes when they're made.
As mentioned in the introduction, Winker doesn't exactly draw rave reviews for his defense, but he was a centerfielder through high school and he projects to have an average glove for a corner. And although he'll never be a basestealer, Winker is not a base clogger and could 5 or steals a season during his early years.Off the field, Winker is said to be an extremely hard worker and he's given the ultimate old-school compliment that he's a gamer.
What's the Future Hold?
Winker's future, both in the real world and in fantasy baseball, is tied to the development of his bat. While that's always a dangerous proposition, the scouts that believe he will hit believe that he will hit in a big, big way.Down the road, Winker can be a.290 hitter with a high OBP and 20-25 homeruns. Assuredly there will be doubters, and he's a long way from a finished product, but this could be a really good player when it's all said and done.
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For more on Winker and the rest of the Reds' prospects, be sure to check out Red Reporter.
You can follow him on twitter @Andrew_Ball.
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