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.

16 Responses

  1. Old Big Ed

    In that photo, CES looks like the great Rocky Colavito, although CES is shorter and thicker. He can’t throw like Colavito, who had a nearly Clemente-level arm. (He gave up 1 hit in 5.2 career IP.) If he can hit anything like Colavito, he’ll make up for Robinson-for-Pappas.

      • Old Big Ed

        Probably true. You can say what you want about Jocketty, Williams and Krall, but they didn’t trade Frank Robinson in his prime.

        In the 13 years from 1959 to 1971 (ages 23-35), Robinson had 12 seasons (x1963) of an OPS+ of 150 or better. He had 4 separate years (1960-62 & 1966) where led his league in SLG, OPS and OPS+.

        Colavito’s career OPS+ of 132, though, would be nice to have.

    • Little Earl

      At least with subsequent trades, they got Clay Carroll and Pedro Borbon. Jim McGlothlin also provided 3 serviceable years.

  2. MBS

    I really want to believe that CES, and or Steer will work out. They both seem like fools gold to me. Both look the part, but getting 2 guys who were doing so well, and so close to the MLB level seems too good to be true.

    • Old Big Ed

      I wondered that, too, but the Twins will have a 26-year-old Luis Arraez, fresh off the AL batting title, who plays the same positions as Steer. Plus, the Twins’ 2 top prospects are Royce Lewis and Brooks Lee, both of whom are SS-3B types. (Lewis has run into bad injury luck, so he may not stick at SS.) Maybe the Twins just doesn’t believe in homegrown 1B/DH types (in CES’s case), when proven ones are readily available for a reasonable price.

      Steer, to me, projects as a solid utility player. You can always hope for a Ben Zobrist, but the likelihood is a guy who gets 200 ABs — 350 in a year where somebody else gets an injury — and holds his own both in the field and at the plate.

      And, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, else the Reds would never have gotten Luis Castillo.

    • Greenfield Red

      Agree with this thought. There must be a reason MN was willing to trade two guys who appear to be both high end and major league ready. I hope we are both wrong.

      • Optimist

        Tyler Mahle was the reason, and a pretty good one at that. Both Steer and CES have flaws – Steer is older, so this year is when he has to make it as an MLB level talent beyond an end of bench guy (the Reds have a team full of those already). CES has an uncertain defensive position, and his age means this year must be productive at AA/AAA with the split and BB/K issues.

        Mahle was good, but likely not going to be great or star-level. If either CES or Steer develop into a somewhat productive regular, this will be a good deal. If both do, or if one of them lasts for 4-5 years, it’s an excellent deal.

    • Stock

      I am with you too MK. CES has a strikeout/walk ratio that scares me. Steer did not impress me in limited playing time this September. I hope the Reds analysis of these two is right though.

  3. Michael

    Steer is a patient hitter which will serve him well. I project him to be the leadoff hitter on opening day with India hitting 2nd. I doubt Steer will be a star but I believe he will be a steady and reliable major leaguer with a typical slash line of .270/.350/.420. I am hopeful of continued power numbers from CES and I think he debuts post all star break.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    I wonder how a guy who hit 317/.376/.588 in his pro career is evaluated with below-average or averge tool hit by the scouts… Aside this, he has an acceptable walk% and K% rate…

      • Doug Gray

        Let’s just do some math before going into the deeper scouting side of things here.

        Let’s use a 6% walk rate and a 26% strikeout rate (his rates in AA this year) as a baseline. Let’s also give him 30 home runs in 600 plate appearances. Now let’s give him a .301 BABIP, 5 sac flies, and 8 hit by pitches for this hypothetical season.

        His average in that scenario? .257. That’s a 40-50 (or below-average to average) batting average.

        There’s obviously some wiggle room there because maybe he’s an outlier high BABIP guy, which can push that up. Maybe he’s going to hit more than 30 home runs annually, which would also push that up.

        Now, when it comes to the scouting side of things, there’s a lot that goes into it. Bat speed, bat path, mechanics, athleticism (not necessarily stuff you’ve be checking out at an NFL combine in terms of athleticism), pitch recognition, ability to use the entire field, how hard they hit the ball with regularity beyond just the home runs, etc.

        A lot of that isn’t going to show up in the numbers. Scouts can typically see that stuff, though, and how it may or may not work against the best pitchers alive versus guys who are minor leaguers.

        With specifics to Encarnacion-Strand you’ve had reports that he struggles with premium velocity. And you’ve also got a guy who strikes out quite a bit and doesn’t walk much. He’s still relatively young, so that could improve a bit. But in 2023 everyone has premium velocity in the big leagues and up there guys are better at getting hitters to chase. That combo of things is going to mean a hitter like him (and plenty of others) are going to have questions about just how much average they are going to hit for.

  5. Bigbill

    What does CES need to do to turn his bat into a plus tool. He has a lifetime average of 317, an OBA of 376 and slugging percentage of 588. He does strike out just a bit too much but the bat seems pretty wire.

  6. Rod

    I actually think that Steer could end up the better overall player between the two. He’s more athletic, and can probably play more positions effectively, and likely will have better splits between lefties and righties. Then again, maybe neither one will be that successful.

    • Chris in NC

      Steer’s approach at the plate – to me – indicates his floor is pretty high.

      I hope the Reds plug him in at third base on Opening Day and leave him there.