There is an amazing amount of subtle variety within the Major League Baseball lexicon. There are multiple disabled lists and restricted lists, for instance, and the ability for teams to spend money on international players requires enough accounting logistics to make your head spin. And, as we’ve seen this winter on the free agent market, the new implications of MLB’s luxury tax have already begun to take hold of how teams operate within the gray areas of spending.
Another notable subtlety is now relevant for fans of the Cincinnati Reds, as the team announced today that they’ve reassigned top prospect Nick Senzel to minor league camp, almost assuring that he’ll start the year in the minors and not with the big league club.
I bring up baseball jargon, lingo, and logistical lexicon here instead of future value projections and the direction of the organization as a whole for a viable reason, though, so hear me out.
The Reds reassigned Senzel to minor league camp. They did not option him, and there’s an important distinction in this particular case. Senzel, you see, has barely been in the Cincinnati system for a year and a half, which is a blink in a player’s overall professional career. The Reds don’t have to option him because he’s not even been around long enough for them to have to have added him to the 40-man roster yet, let alone to their 25-man roster, and that’s an important distinction to make when salivating over what the 22 year old phenom can bring to the table down the road.
The Reds have all the time in the world to be patient with Senzel, who still has just 235 career MiLB plate appearances above A-ball. Yes, he looked every bit the part of a future MLB star in his first big league camp this spring. Yes, he hit .286, took well to playing shortstop, and has the kind of makeup that makes you think he could be an instant impact player for the Reds right this moment. However, he’s far from the first top prospect to be brought along patiently, especially when you consider that a mere 2-3 weeks of sticking around the minors in 2018 means the Reds would have team control of him through the 2024 season instead of just through 2023, a financial and hierarchical must-do that any front office would buy into.
Rest assured, you’ll see Nick Senzel as a Red in 2018, and for a long, long time afterwards. You’ll see him become a star, too. But as for March 19th, 2018, just keep in mind that his present has existed for such a short time in the Cincinnati system that the Reds can’t even yet option him to the minor leagues.
That said, if you’re in the Louisville, KY area and are interested in seeing him play for the Bats, I’d suggest you frontload your ticket purchasing for games in April, since you may not get the chance to catch him in Slugger Field much beyond that.