Nick Senzel is currently in the middle of dominating his third level of baseball this season.
First he dominated the collegiate ranks at Tennessee. After that, he was viewed as the top college bat in the June draft. The Reds concurred and made Senzel the second selection overall.
After struggling a bit with Billings to begin his pro career, Senzel went 2-for-4 on June 29. It was enough for the Reds to stick to their timeline and advance the third baseman to Dayton after the game.
On Monday night, Senzel went 4-for-5, hit his first career home run, and fell just a double short of the cycle. In just 54 at bats at the level, Senzel is starting to prove the Reds right with the decision to select him. He is hitting .278 with a .780 OPS with Dayton.
The question that the Reds are faced with is, when is enough, enough for a rapid promotion for Senzel?
After all, Senzel was a college hitter, rather than a high school pick. He has shown the ability to hit Low-A pitching at an advanced rate. What is the most harm that he can get with getting his feet wet in High-A for a month or so this season?
If he struggles, that isn’t the end of the world. It is not like a month of seeing a new level is going to crush his confidence enough to wreck his career so early. Additionally, it gives him a head start to begin the 2017 season, already having seen and adapted to the league.
Also, if he struggles at the level, the organization will get a taste of how he deals with adversity – a near guarantee in baseball over the long run.
With an August promotion to Daytona, Senzel would get about a month under his belt in High-A and still have a month and a half tearing up Low-A in Dayton. Daytona’s regular season ends on September 4. While it appears that neither team is likely to make the playoffs, that does not come into play for extra time either.
Top hitting prospects like Senzel can be pushed and challenged a little more than top pitching prospects. Hitters are not met with the same inning constraints and similar challenges, allowing them to be moved along a little faster.
Senzel already has six doubles and a home run in just 10 games at Dayton. If the success continues for another two week stretch, Senzel should find his way south to Daytona. If he is led down this aggressive path, it puts him ahead of the game to begin the 2017 season regardless of how he performs at High-A.
A move to High-A this season, and then eventually to Double-A next mid season if the success continues would get Senzel to the big leagues on a faster path and more experience quicker. it could even come as soon as 2018. That clearly aids both the Reds and Senzel in the long run.