Nick Senzel and his father have interesting connections with former Cincinnati Reds All-star players and 2016 Reds draft choices.
Senzel, former Farragut High School and Tennessee Volunteers star infielder who was the No. 2 overall pick in the entire Major League Baseball Draft in June, actually went to Farragut Primary School with one new Reds organization teammate.
Catcher Cassidy Brown, from Loyola Marymount University, was the Reds’ 12th-round draft choice.
“I didn’t really know that he went to my school until in the summer when we played in the Cape Cod [League] together. He was on my team … and we were talking and he told me he went to Farragut,” said Senzel, now playing Class A Rookie League Minor League Baseball in Billings, Mont. (Pioneer League). “And I was just like, ‘really?’”
Ex-Volunteers teammate Andy Cox, a left-handed pitcher, was a seventh-round Reds choice in June. Aaron Quillen, former
Vol who transferred to Belmont University, is a right-handed pitcher drafted by Cincinnati in the 22nd round.
Signing a contract with a bonus of $7,762,900 a few days after the draft, Senzel (starting third baseman) joins Brown, Cox and Quillen as teammates this summer in Billings.
“It’s good to have guys you know on the team,” Senzel said.
Senzel’s father, Jeff Senzel, said he got to know former Reds perennial All-stars, such as shortstop Barry Larkin, as a matre’d at a fancy Atlanta restaurant when Cincinnati would visit the Braves during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The younger Senzel wasn’t lost on knowing Larkin’s star power.
During batting practice at
the Reds’ Spring Training facility in Phoenix, Ariz., “Barry Larkin came up to me and introduced himself and I was shocked,” Senzel said.
Larkin is now a Reds minor league coach.
“We then had a long conversation, bouncing off ideas. … An unbelievable guy,” Senzel, 21, said.
Comparing Pioneer League pitching versus Southeastern Conference pitching, “In the SEC we see great arms every night. … [In the Pioneer League] it’s a lot younger guys that have talent, but they’re just young,” Senzel said. “… I haven’t seen any overwhelming velocity.”
However, through seven games in Billings, Senzel was hitting just .143 (three hits, no home runs and one double, in 21 at-bats) with three RBI.
Despite being the No. 2 overall choice in the entire draft, “I don’t feel any added pressure,” Senzel said.
Comparing Billings versus UT, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound ex-Admiral said his first minor league home “is more laid back. You feel like your main goal
is not to win games. That’s a little weird. It’s more individual.
“You’ve got to learn to handle failure each and every day,” he added. “You’ve got to learn to stay positive even though you’re still far away from home.”