After a big debut, granted in just 22 games, in 2021 after the draft where he put up a 1.022 OPS in Fort Myers, the Minnesota Twins moved Christian Encarnacion-Strand up to High-A Cedar Rapids to begin the 2022 season.
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To say that the season started out well for Christian Encarnacion-Strand would be the understatement of understatements. He went 4-5 with two home runs and drove in NINE runs on opening day. He followed that up by going 5-5 with a double, home run, and five runs batted in on the second day of the season. Things slowed down from there because they almost had to, but he still hit .338 the rest of the month as he put together a huge month of April with Cedar Rapids.
For as hot as the third baseman was in April, though, he was that cold in May. After a so-so start to the month he went into a big slump and hit just .161 over the final 16 games of the month, leading to a .659 OPS during May. Things turned around in June, starting with a 9-game hit streak to start the month that included 11 extra-base hits and Encarnacion-Strand didn’t slow down from there as he put up an OPS of 1.110 from June 1st through July 13th. That’s when Minnesota promoted the infielder to Double-A Wichita and he just kept on going, hitting .333/.400/.685 in the final 13 games of July.
That last game of July would also be his last game as a Twins prospect as he was then traded to Cincinnati at the trade deadline. The Reds assigned him to their Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga. Encarnacion-Strand didn’t need any time to adjust and he just picked up where he left off, hitting .317/.360/.561 in his 21 games during August with the Lookouts. He would go 0-7 to start September before finishing out the final two weeks of the season hitting .340 (16-47).
For all 2022 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Christian Encarnacion-Strand Scouting Report
Position: Third Base | B/T: R/R
Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 224 lbs | Acquired: 4th Round, 2021 Draft (Twins), Trade (August 2022)
Born: December 1, 1999
Hitting | A slightly below-average to average tool.
Power | He has plus to plus-plus raw power.
Speed | He’s a below-average runner.
Defense | Below-average to slightly-below average.
Arm | He has an average arm.
In his career he’s played 144 games in the minors and has hit .317/.376/.588 with 33 doubles, 7 triples, and 36 home runs. It’s fair to say that he’s absolutely crushed the ball. Despite the production, though, his hit tool hasn’t been graded nearly as high as he’s hit so far. While there are hitters who strike out more than Encarnacion-Strand does, he struck out 25.5% of the time he stepped to the plate in 2022. That’s likely going to limit just how much average he can hit for unless he’s one of the rare exceptions who can carry a very high BABIP with him.
His power is where he shines. Encarnacion-Strand slugged .587 thanks to 68 extra-base hits in 122 games, including 32 home runs. And that kind of power should carry forward with him as long as he can continue to make contact as he moves up. He’s got above-average game power right now and there could be more in there.
During 2022 he had big splits when it comes to lefties and righties. He crushed right-handed pitching to the tune of .344/.409/.659 with 31 walks and 88 strikeouts in 386 plate appearances. Left-handed pitchers had tons of success against him, though, holding him to a .206/.263/.411 line with 9 walks and 49 strikeouts in 152 plate appearances. He’s going to have to hit better against lefties in the future if he’s going to play every day.
Defensively he’s split time as a professional between first and third base. At third base he’s had a lot of struggles since being drafted and has an .893 fielding percentage at the position, but around the midseason point in 2022 he stopped making errors and saw a massive improvement in his consistency at the position. He’s likely to always be a bat-first guy, but the dramatic and sudden improvement defensively gives one a lot more confidence that he won’t wind up at first base or designated hitter sooner rather than later.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand Spray Chart
Interesting Stat on Christian Encarnacion-Strand
On June 17th he made an error against the Dayton Dragons, dropping his fielding percentage at third base to .827 on the season. He didn’t play in the field over the next three days before returning on the 21st. From that day forward Encarnacion-Strand posted a .976 fielding percentage at third base in 35 games.