It’s been a great season so far for Christian Encarnacion-Strand and that continued last week as the Louisville Bats faced off against the Columbus Clippers. He was so good in the series that he was named as the Triple-A International League’s Player of the Week.

There were only five games in the series thanks to Sunday’s game being cancelled by rain. Despite that, Christian Encarnacion-Strand had 10 hits in his 19 at-bats. Those 10 hits included three home runs and two doubles. Encarnacion-Strand scored nine runs, drove in eight, walked six times, and he struck out just three times. All of that led to a .526/.640/1.105 line – that’s good for an OPS of 1.745.

While the entire season hasn’t been THAT good, this is just a hotter streak on top of a hot streak that’s lasted all season. Through his first 42 games of the season with Louisville, Christian Encarnacion-Strand is hitting .362/.427/.735 with 13 doubles, a triple, 17 home runs, 41 runs scored, and 46 runs batted in. Yes, he is averaging more than a run batted in per game this season.

For Christian Encarnacion-Strand, it seems that he’s been taking things to an even different level over the last two-and-a-half weeks. In the first 28 games of the season he hit .347 and slugged .694. Those are just outstanding numbers. But that also came along with three walks and 36 strikeouts in 28 games.

On May 26th he walked twice in a game (and also doubled and homered in that game) against the Syracuse Mets. And ever since he’s been an an absolutely hilarious tear through the International League. He’s played in 14 games since that date and has hit .396/.536/.830 with five doubles and six home runs. But the big difference has been that he has walked 16 times and struck out just eight times in 69 plate appearances. It is as if almost overnight he decided he was going to start walking at an elite rate and stop striking out almost altogether. And then just went out and did it.

Here are the other Players of the Week this season from the farm system:

  • Andrew Abbott – Southern League – April 10-16
  • Blake Dunn – Midwest League – April 24-30
  • Noelvi Marte – Southern League – May 1-7
  • Matt McLain – International League – May 1-7
  • Noelvi Marte – Southern League – May 16-21
  • Tommy Eveld – Southern League – May 22-28
  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand – International League – June 5-11
  • Connor Phillips – Southern League – June 5-11

24 Responses

  1. Jay (mortchristenson)

    Thought this might be the day/week they brought him up. Alas.

    • Doug Gray

      The week is just now starting.

      That said, I get the feeling they’re waiting to see what happens with Votto. Love to be wrong about that because you can play them both.

  2. Little Earl

    Connor Phillips also won it from last week?

    • Doug Gray


      But I’m having that for a separate article so he can get his full due. It’ll publish tomorrow morning. It’s already written and scheduled.

  3. MK

    Think there is any correlation to the Reds and Bats improved play that there are more Bats players moved up to Cincinnati and more Reds player moved back to the Bats?

  4. MK

    So who gets sent to the minors to bring up CES, Votto, Meyers Ramos and Senzel? Should it be: Barrero, Cassali, Maile, Fairchild, Benson or who. With the exception of Barrero. All are performing better or as well as the person who would be replacing them to this point in the season.

    • Stock

      MK is exactly right. So many players injuried right now that even though it makes sense to bring up CES today where will the roster spot be in 2 weeks. But, he has shown he belongs in the majors.

      Red’s Problem:

      OF (4): Currently 4 active OF (Friedl, Benson, Fairchild and Hopkins) with Senzel, Fraley and Myers on the DL.

      My short term solution:

      OF: Trade Myers for a bag of peanuts or release him when he is ready to come off the DL. He is not in the Reds long term future and has not earned a spot on the roster. Send Hopkins and Fairchild back to Louisville.

      Platoon Senzel and Fraley in LF. Friedl in CF and Benson in RF.

      IF: Steer, India, EDLC, McLain and Newman all have earned their keep. Newman is better than most (including me) give him credit for on here. If Votto deems himself healthy he has to be brought up. Barrero is sent down to keep IF at 6.

      Catcher: Stay with three. Truth be told Stephenson is our worst option at catcher.

      Long term solution: Trade Stephenson. Bring up CES.

      This allows our best two catchers to catch every day. This is best for our pitchers. CES may very well be the best bat the Reds have and he is in Louisville.

      C: Maile/Casali
      1B: CES
      2B: India
      3B: EDLC
      SS: McLain
      LF: Fraley/Steer
      CF: Friedl
      RF: Benson/Senzel
      DH: Steer/Newman

      Bench: Votto

      If you trade Newman or India you can bring Fairchild back up.

      • Optimist

        Ugh – it’s a good problem to have for sure, but I wouldn’t be trading India or Stephenson. Not Stephenson, because C is so hard to find, and they won’t have 3 after this season, and not India, because it’s India.

        I suspect someone or two may stay longer in rehab than the earliest dates suggest. Myers and Newman certainly get traded, or even DFA Myers; and perhaps either Maile or Casali get traded since catching is always in demand.

        A really interesting set of juggling next month could even have them use a pitcher’s spot to bring up a hitter – go from 13/13 to 14/12 roster for a few days around the break and during height of trade period.

        Unless CES is still working on something (see DaveCT’s comment) he needs to be up asap, and really no later than the break. He’s the last serious roster addition this season, though I won’t be surprised if Marte and/or Phillips get added as the extra 2 players in September.

      • Stock

        I respect and understand your view Optimist. Your points are this space are always solid. I agree with you that you don’t trade India because he’s India. But you could argue that EDLC has the same leadership ability as India.

        Here me out on trading Stephenson.

        1. Stephenson has the most trade value of the three catchers.
        2. He’s not any better than the other two (in fact if you go by WAR he is the #3 catcher on the team).
        3. If I had a group of young pitchers and wanted to enhance their growth as much as possible I would want Casali or Maile behind the plate over Stephenson. Stephenson has a lot to learn on getting batters out. (2022 Greene pitching with Stephenson at C: 5.09, with Stephenson not catching: 4.07. 2023 Greene pitching with Stephenson at C: 5.75, with other at Catcher: 3.26)

        I can’t help but think management believes this too. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Maile has caught both Abbott starts.

        If you look at just hitting, Stephenson is the best of these 3 catchers. If you look at hitting and defense Stephenson has a slight edge over Casali but not as much as you would think. For the year Stephenson is last of the three. But if you add in the concern that our pitching staff is young that puts Stephenson 3rd on the team in my eyes and should therefore be traded because the pitching will only add rookie pitchers in the next 2 years.

      • Optimist

        I’m with you on almost all of that – let’s start with everyone is tradeable.

        I’ve wavered on Stephenson as a candidate for two reasons – 1 – their experience last season, and they really haven’t fixed that – the best prospects are in the low minors – Chuckie is the same age as Maile/Casali; and 2, it may take this year for TySteve to fully recover from the injury/surgery. If he is the hitter we expect, even as average/below average on defense, he’s hugely valuable. We won’t know that until next season.

        If Maile keeps hitting they may set Casali aside – either as a trade or make him an offer to move to the coaching staff where he’s apparently very impressive.

      • Optimist

        Note – Chuckie is 28, Maile 32, Casali 34 – Chuckie a bit younger, but old enough to not be a long term answer, even if he hits a bit better in MLB.

        I’m watching Hunter and Duno in the low minors – they seem most likely to hit enough to make it.

      • AMDG

        Heading into the 2023 season their career OPS+ was
        Stephenson 116
        Casali 91
        Maile 61

        The Reds pulled Stephenson from behind the plate full time “because his bat was too valuable”, but he is having a down 2023 with the bat.

        Perhaps they should try to return him to fulltime catching?

        It puts him where he is comfortable, which hopefully improves the hitting and gets him back to a positive dWAR.

  5. A Former West Sider

    Maybe CES has had his phone in airplane mode for the past 2 weeks…

    • Doug Gray

      I did see it. But I’d also love to see what the numbers look like over the last three weeks given that he’s walked 16 times with just 8 strikeouts in the recent stretch. When he had 3 walks and 36 strikeouts…. yeah, maybe you keep him down to work on something at the plate. Now? Yeah, I’m not sure I can sell keep him down to work on something at the plate.

    • Redsvol

      Keith Law over on the Athletic (formerly of ESPN) said many of the same things. Too many swings and misses per Keith which will get exposed by MLB pitching. I get it but at some point front office has to understand he isn’t going to fix anything at AAA if he is mashing the pitching there. I’m sure we will see him after the trade deadline.

  6. Zach

    This is becoming comical… CES destroyed the ball in spring training and should have been on the opening day roster.

    CES is the same age Votto was when he was called up for his first taste of MLB ball. I say stick CES as close to Votto as humanly possible until the end of the season. CES can learn a lot from the legend himself.

    • Doug Gray

      I mean he was hurt so he wasn’t making the opening day roster…..

  7. Doc

    Will be at Bats games Wednesday and Thursday as part of a 2,500 mile journey. Please leave at least one stud there for us to see! As it is half the team are from the MLB club rehabber team. Would be a real bummer should CES go up before we get there. Already missed seeing half the Reds current starting lineup. At least Bats tickets are a reasonable cost.

  8. Melvin

    “Christian Encarnacion-Strand had 10 hits in his 19 at-bats. Those 10 hits included three home runs and two doubles. Encarnacion-Strand scored nine runs, drove in eight, walked six times, and he struck out just three times. All of that led to a .526/.640/1.105 line – that’s good for an OPS of 1.745.”

    Is that all? ;) Definitely needs more seasoning. lol

  9. Billy

    Dudes went from saying Stephenson isn’t coming out from behind the plate to trade him. It doesn’t make sense to trade him at this moment.

  10. Laredo Slider

    Creating bogus concerns to keep a guy in AAA who’s hitting about .360, closing in on 20 HRs and 50 RBIs while pandering to Votto/Senzel would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.