The Reds protected Winker from the Rule 5 draft, as expected. No longer the top prospect in the organization, following the drafting of Nick Senzel in June, Winker failed to hit for power last year at Triple-A, but still displayed a plus hit tool and phenomenal approach (59:59 K:BB in 448 plate appearances). He has shown the ability to hit double-digit homers in a season on three previous occasions, so owners should not overreact to him hitting just three over the fence in 2016. Winker should reach the majors early on in in 2017 and should quickly earn a spot near the top of the big league lineup.
Winker (wrist) went 0-for-4 in his first game back with Triple-A Louisville on Thursday.
After four games with the team's rookie-level affiliate, Winker was thrust back up atop the minor league ladder. Winker, who missed a month due to a wrist injury, has managed just two home runs in 56 games with Louisville this season and hasn't even attempted a stolen base, but he has more walks (33) than strikeouts (32) and that plate discipline could earn him a September promotion.
Winker might need a decent amount of time before proving he's ready to advance beyond Triple-A Louisville, as he has just two homers and a .367 slugging percentage so far. But the Reds will still likely give him a look at some point this year, especially if Jay Bruce gets dealt as expected by the trade deadline.
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