Reds’ top pick Senzel goes 2-for-4 in Dragons debut

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Nick Senzel talks about his quick rise up the ranks in the Reds minor league system

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The life of a minor-league baseball player is a hurry-up-and-wait proposition. It can take years to climb the ladder to the majors and, fact is, most won’t.

Nick Senzel certainly didn’t wait long to make his first move. The Cincinnati Reds’ top pick in last month’s draft, No. 2 overall, played 10 games for Billings (Mont.) in the rookie-level Pioneer League before being promoted to Dayton and quickly inserted into the Dragons’ starting lineup Friday night at Fifth Third Field against the West Michigan Whitecaps.

“It’s been so fast-paced,” the third baseman from the University of Tennessee said. “I wanted to get going early. Negotiations worked out and I got to Billings a few days later and before I knew it I was in Dayton. I haven’t had a lot of sleep in the last few hours but it’s been a fun journey so far.”

Sensel had a strong debut with two hits in five at-bats, including a double to lead off the sixth inning. Senzel also singled to start the eighth. He scored both times on base as the Dragons battled from behind before falling 5-4.

Dayton had the tying run at third base in the ninth with Senzel back at the plate, but he struck out swinging.

Senzel and second-round pick Chris Okey, a catcher, got on an airplane in Montana on Thursday and flew to Minneapolis. They missed a couple of connecting flights to Dayton, finally landing in Vandalia a little after midnight.

The Reds signed Senzel to a contract topping $6 million, the kind of money that puts a player on the fast track.

“I can put as much pressure on myself as I want but that’s not going to help me any,” Senzel said. “There are a lot of expectations and a lot of people want me to get up there quick but it’s a process and the biggest thing is staying positive.”

Senzel shot up draft boards after earning MVP honors in the prestigious wood bat Cape Cod summer league a year ago. He followed that with a career year in Knoxville, and was considered one of the best hitters in the draft.

“I’m just trying to get used to the everyday grind of playing baseball,” Senzel said. “Anyone that’s ever played baseball dreams of playing in the big leagues and I’m excited to be able to do it in the Cincinnati Reds organization.”

Okey started behind the plate and went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice.