By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — It is — ta-dum — third baseman Nick Senzel. That’s whom the Cincinnati Reds selected in the first round tonight of the free agent baseball draft.
And I got it right.
In a piece I wrote Monday I predicted the Reds would take one of three players and Senzel was my No. 1 choice.
And this is how I put it:
“Taking a wild guess, depending upon whom the Phillies take, the Reds need position players and probably will take one of three players — University of Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel, Mercer College outfielder Kyle Lewis (who hit a 461-foot home run this year) or University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray.
Senzel is the most exciting possibility. He hit .352 in 57 games this year for the Volunteers and drove in more than a run a game with 59. He hit eight home runs and 25 doubles, nearly a double every other game.
The Phillies took a high school outfielder with the draft’s first pick, Mickey Moniak of La Costa Canyon (California) High School, a player that most likely will take longer to develop than Senzel.
There is one clog in the deal, though. Denzel’s agent is the extremely difficult to deal with Scott Boras, so negotiations could be long and difficult.
Reds Director of Amateur Scouting Chris Buckley said the Reds got their man.
“We’re really excited, this is the guy we wanted,” said Buckley. “He is a very polished player, one of the better hitters, if not the best hitter in the draft. We think his power will improve the more he plays. He is a complete player, runs, throws and plays his position well.”
SOME SCOUTS have called Senzel (Sen-ZELL, as in Denzel) the next Scott Rolen, high praise indeed.
Asked if he is excited and anxious to begin his professional career, Senzel went right to the cash vault.
“Man, I’m ready, but as you guys know there is business to be taken care of and I have the best team in the world (The Boras Group) that takes care of that and they’ll let me know when the business side is taken care of,” said Senzel. “Once the business side (money and contract signing) is taken care of I’ll be ready to go.
“When I heard the pick I was extremely relieved and extremely excited,” he said. “I’m honored to be selected to the Reds. It’s a dream come true and this is just the beginning.”
Third base is his spot but he said he has played all the infield spots for the Volunteers and, “It’s just a matter of where they put me and where they develop me. Wherever they want me, I’ll play, however I can help out the organization.”