Winker stays hot with four hits for Bats

Reds No. 3 prospect collects homer, double and scores four runs

Jesse Winker is hitting .307/.378/.400 in 41 International League games this season. (Louisville Bats)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | May 24, 2017 12:58 AM

Last month, Jesse Winker got his first cup of coffee in "The Show." He knew his time in the Majors was temporary, but that only increased his thirst for the future.

"I think anytime you get to go up there and be around that team and that environment, it makes you want to be there every day of your life," he said. "But I understand the situation I'm in. I understand that it wasn't time for me to go play every day. I understand that that's the goal for me. So I'm down here to get my work in and become a better ballplayer."

Working toward his next callup, Cincinnati's No. 3 prospect went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, four runs scored and two RBIs as Triple-A Louisville topped Pawtucket, 7-4, on Tuesday at McCoy Stadium.


Gameday box score


Winker started his season 10-for-31 (.323) with five RBIs and six walks in eight games with the Bats before getting his first callup on April 14. But after going 1-for-2 with a two-run double as a pinch hitter, MLB.com's No. 59 overall prospect returned to the International League.

"It was a great experience for me," Winker said. "I got my first hit, first double, first RBI out of the way. I came back here to get my work in, and I know the next time it's my time to go up there, it's going to be my time to go play. I'm just looking forward to that opportunity."

Video: Louisville's Winker whacks second homer

Since returning to the Minors on April 15, Winker's worked with Bats manager Delino DeShields and hitting coach Jody Davis. The 23-year-old has even soaked up anything he could from pitching coach Jeff Fassero. The result has been a hot May. Winker's hitting .342/.404/.468 with 11 RBIs and 13 runs in 21 games this month.

"I've been feeling real comfortable at the plate," Winker said. "We've been talking about all kinds of things. Some little tweaks with my hitting, some stuff on the defensive side of the ball and we've been really getting into a lot of baserunning stuff. So they're really helping me become a complete player and that's all I really want to be."

He showed off multiple tools against the PawSox, starting with the first pitch he saw. Facing a familiar foe in Shawn Haviland (2-4), who pitched for Columbus last season, Winker ripper a two-run shot to right field for his second homer of the season.

"I had an idea of what he was going to throw me and I just wanted to attack a certain pitch," the No. 3 hitter said. "He threw it and I put the barrel on the bat. It happened to get up and get out. So I was happy it got out."

But Winker said he does not put much stock in his first at-bat of games. The 2012 compensation-round pick knocked a single to right in the fourth and added an infield single in the eighth. Winker also made an assist in right in the second to double Allen Craig off at second.

Video: Winker doubles off the wall for Bats

With the Bats sending eight men to the plate in the penultimate frame, Winker got another at-bat in the ninth and didn't waste it. The left-handed hitter slapped a double to center for his eighth career four-hit game and later scored for the fourth time in the game.

"I just try to play the game hard and put together good AB's, hit the ball hard and make it really hard on the pitcher," Winker said. "I just try to keep it really simple and just enjoy what I do."

Bats righty reliever Barrett Astin (1-2) allowed a hit and a walk while fanning three in two frames. Kevin Shackelford worked around a knock and a free pass with a punchout for the final four outs to secure his fifth save.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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