Wearing a pair of batting gloves given to him by Jay Bruce, Jesse Winker made his first real start for the Cincinnati Reds.
Winker has been in the starting lineup before but as a designated hitter. This time he gave Scott Schebler a rest and took his position in rightfield behind Homer Bailey.
Winker was drafted by the Reds as a supplemental pick in the 2012 draft, the 49th pick in the country. He made all the stops, Dayton in 2013, Bakersfield and Pensacola in 2014, Pensacola all of 2015 and Louisville last season. After an impressive spring this year, Winker was back in Louisville to play every day, while Adam Duvall and Schebler emerged as regulars.
“I understand. I concentrate on getting better every day in Louisville,” Winker said.
When Jay Bruce was a young player, Adam Dunn showed him the ropes. Bruce passed on his knowledge to Winker.
“Jay and I would hang out together in spring training three years ago. He is a great guy to learn from," Winker said. “I remember to this day. I was in the Low A home run derby (Dayton) and he text me good luck. I thought this is pretty cool.”
Winker won the Midwestern League derby and the High A in Bakersfield too.
An injury to his wrist from an auto accident cut down on his power at Louisville. He only hit three home runs but was second in the International League in on-base-percentage .397 and seventh with a .303 batting average.
This is Winker’s third trip to Cincinnati this season. He made his Major League debut as a pinch hitter on April 14 against Milwaukee’s Oliver Drake. He struck out. Winker’s first Major League hit was the next day as he drove in the winning run by blooping a double to left off Carlos Torres of Milwaukee.
Winker is hitting .305 at Louisville this season with two home runs and 37 RBI. Winker is a contact hitter, striking out just 38 times in 256 at bats. He gets on base at a .386 clip.