Reds calling up Winker for big league debut

No. 63 overall prospect went 10-for-31 in eight games at Triple-A

Jesse Winker, the 49th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, owns a .304/.399/.384 line over 114 games at Triple-A. (Dave Wegiel/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | April 14, 2017 1:30 PM

The Reds are off to a 7-3 start in the National League Central, and the organization's No. 3 prospect is getting his shot to help keep the good times rolling.

Cincinnati is calling up outfielder Jesse Winker from Triple-A Louisville for his Major League debut, the club announced Friday. Right-hander Barrett Astin, who made two appearances out of the bullpen, was optioned to Louisville to make room on the 25-man roster.

Tweet from @Reds: The #Reds have recalled OF @JTWinker23 from the @LouisvilleBats. When he first appears in a game, it will be his Major League debut. pic.twitter.com/DWGYd8Abpb

Winker is likely to take over Scott Schebler's spot in the outfield. The 23-year-old left-handed hitter has gone 10-for-31 (.323) with two doubles, five RBIs and six walks in his first eight games of the season in the International League. Six of his seven starts in the field have come in right, making him an easy plug-in for Schebler, who has gone 5-for-31 (.161) in 10 games with the big club, though four of those hits have gone for extra bases.

Video: Louisville's Winker clears the bases

Having played 106 games at Triple-A last season, Winker was likely to make his debut at some point in 2017, even if this promotion seems earlier than expected. The 49th overall pick in 2012 showed a good approach in his first trip to Louisville with a .303 average, .397 on-base percentage and 59/59 K/BB ratio in 448 plate appearances, but he showed little power with three homers, 22 doubles and a .082 isolated slugging percentage. Still, he reached base enough to produce an above-average 128 wRC+ last year -- a level he's again reached over a much smaller sample this season.

Power aside, the bulk of Winker's value lies in his bat. MLB.com gives both his fielding and arm tools below-average 45 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his 40 run tool is his lowest among the five major categories. Speedster Billy Hamilton can make up some of that ground in center, while All-Star Adam Duvall, who has gotten off to another nice start by going 12-for-38 (.316) with three homers in 10 games, appears to be a lock in left. 

Winker joins No. 2 Reds prospect Amir Garrett, No. 4 Robert Stephenson and No. 17 Rookie Davis as ranked prospects on Cincinnati's Major League roster.

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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