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Nick Senzel Goes No. 2 Overall to the Cincinnati Reds

Photo Credit: Craig Bisacre/UT Athletics
Photo Credit: Craig Bisacre/UT Athletics

Nick Senzel had a dream season for Tennessee in 2016.

After being named the Most Valuable Player of the Cape Cod Summer League, Senzel excelled at the hot corner during his 2015 junior season. The Knoxville native hit .352 with eight home runs, 59 RBI, and 25 stolen bases.

That success culminated in the second overall selection in the MLB draft, sending Senzel to the Cincinnati Reds.

Nick Senzel’s plate discipline and ability to use all parts of the field make him such a strong player. Senzel’s strikeout rate last season was just 8.2%. He walked 40 times and struck out 21 times, which were both career bests.

Senzel carried the Tennessee offense from the number three spot in the lineup. He hit 49 doubles in his career, and 25 of those came in his junior season.

Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky says that Senzel’s best strength is his right-handed bat.

“He has a compact swing, plus bat speed and exceptional strike zone awareness. He controls the inside part of the strike zone, routinely squares up quality breaking balls and hits line drives with authority to all fields. He’s a special hitter. The emerging scouting consensus regarding Senzel has him as one of the safest hitters in this year’s draft class, and some scouts project him to develop into an all-star-caliber player, but he isn’t perfect.

After Senzel’s summer, scouts weren’t concerned about his ability to hit but worried about his stiff actions in the infield, and his relatively modest power production. So far this season, he has settled the former concern, with one scouting director saying he looks more natural defensively. Senzel’s swing is built more for contact and line drives, though his bat speed and the way the ball comes off his bat indicate a future of power production.”

Senzel found his power against elite pitching competition. Against elite pitchers A.J. Puk and Tanner Houk, he was at his best, hitting a home run off two of the best pitchers in the SEC. Following Senzel’s performance against Florida’s A.J. Puk (who was the No. 6 overall pick on Thursday evening), Dave Serrano was complimentary of Senzel’s approach against hard throwing pitchers.

“When someone sees something like that this late in the year, that swing might have helped Nick Senzel a tremendous amount,” Serrano said. “He did it at the right time. He’s stepping up for the Vols at the right time.

Serrano added that Senzel lets pitchers supply the power, allowing him to take an easy swing.

“I think that’s what guys need to learn to do,” Serrano said.  You allow the pitcher to supply the power. I don’t think Nick swung real hard, he just had a good swing on it and the ball carried. That was a special home run that he hit.”

For Senzel, the team comes first. Throughout his stellar season, he says that his priority has always been to help the Vols win. After his performance against Puk and Florida, Senzel was only focused on his team’s victory.

“At this point in the year you’re just trying to win ball games,” Senzel said. “That’s how I’ve taken this process, just winning games. It’s never been about me, it’s never been about A.J. Puk, it’s about the group of guys you have around each other.”

Senzel brings talent and maturity to the Reds organization. Look for him to make an immediate impact in the minor league level and quickly rise up to the show. From there, the sky is the limit.

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