Prospect Winker goes back to basics in offseason
Young outfielder spends time in Florida working with dad on honing his swing
CINCINNATI -- Reds outfield prospect Jesse Winker hasn't waited for Minor League camp to get started to begin working towards achieving his goals for 2014.
A Buffalo, N.Y., native, Winker grew up outside of Orlando, Fla., where his parents, Joe and Karen, run a hitting warehouse that was originally founded by former Reds outfielder Dante Bichette. It was there where Winker first developed his left-handed swing. It's again where he continued to hone it this winter.
"There's never a day where you can't get better at something," Winker said. "All offseason, I've been working with my dad. We've gone back to basics on how we used to hit back in the cage. We've been talking hitting, watching some video, breaking stuff down together. There a couple of things I want to work on with my load, but besides that, it's really about keeping everything simple and having fun. I don't like to think too much. I just like to get up there and hit."
"It was a great year in Dayton," Winker said. "It started with the fans. It was fun to be a part of a very electric atmosphere. I'm ready to get this year going and carry it over. Hitting-wise, I had a good approach and a good mindset. I stuck with it all year. Even if I was in a slump, I'd just go back to basics with it."
Winker showed some discipline at the plate with 63 walks compared to 75 strikeouts.
"He's really taken to studying the game and trying to perfect his craft," Reds player development director Jeff Graupe said. "For being a 19-year old in the Midwest League last year, he took consistently quality at-bats. You don't see many 19-year-olds with a strikeout-to-walk ratio that successful while still doing damage and having a good slugging percentage. He had a great year."
"I think he's ready to take the next step of not giving away many at-bats," Graupe said. "He's done a good job of that for such a young guy. I think consistently dialing in and seeing the way the great hitters take that next step by grinding out every pitch, every at-bat. I think that's where Jesse is headed."
Indications are that Winker will begin this season one level closer to the big leaguers at Class A Advanced Bakersfield. He is expected to play both corner outfield spots after primarily playing left field in Dayton.
When Reds big league camp opens for Spring Training next week, Winker won't be one of the young players invited to take part. There's certainly a chance he could be on a travel roster for a few exhibition games if the club needs an extra player, with the belief he could, at minimum, hold his own against more experienced pitching.