CINCINNATI -- Jesse Winker will have to wait longer to make his big-league debut with the Reds.
The 23-year-old outfield prospect, considered major-league ready or close, was optioned to AAA Louisville Friday.
Winker hit .273/.333/.409 in 22 spring training games, but he wasn't so impressive that he could beat out Adam Duvall or Scott Schebler for one of the corner outfield spots on Opening Day. The Reds don’t like to use young players as bench players, so they sent him down to play everyday.
Winkler struck out once every four at-bats (11 in 44) this spring and had just three extra-base hits - one homer, one triple and one double. He had 12 hits in 44 ABs with five RBI.
The move coincided with center fielder Billy Hamilton's return. Hamilton missed four games with Achilles inflammation.
Winker probably will make his Cincinnati debut sometime this season - sooner rather than later if Duvall or Schebler gets hurt.
Winker played his first full season in AAA last year and hit .303/.397/.384.
Winker was the Reds' minor league hitter of the year in 2013 and 2015.