The Cincinnati Reds are calling up prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The infielder was a scratch from the Louisville Bats lineup in Triple-A on Sunday evening, just a matter of minutes before the game was set to begin. Speculation was all over the place, but a matter of minutes after the Bats won on a walk-off home run by TJ Hopkins in the bottom of the 10th inning, Robert Murray of Fansided reported that Encarnacion-Strand was being called up by Cincinnati.
Acquired from the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline last summer along with Spencer Steer in exchange for Tyler Mahle, Encarnacion-Strand started turning heads in spring training with the big league club. Despite hitting .577 and slugging 1.192 and only having two strikeouts in 27 plate appearances, the Reds sent him back to minor league camp on March 14th. Shortly after that he was sidelined with a back injury and would miss the first three weeks of the regular season.
Once Christian Encarnacion-Strand was activated, he joined the Triple-A Louisville Bats and basically picked up where he had left off in spring training. In his first 28 games played he hit .347 and he slugged .694 with eight doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs. The lone “wart” on his resume is that during that stretch he had just three walks and struck out 36 times. It did not effect his output at all.
On May 26th he walked twice in a game. Starting that day he hit .318 and slugged .591, crushing 13 doubles, a triple, and nine home runs in 39 games. But he also walked 30 times and struck out just 33 times in 186 plate appearances. There was an enormous change in his walk rate and his strikeout rate. He continued to hit the cover off of the ball, but also started getting on base a lot more often. It was the best of both worlds.
In his 67 games in Triple-A, Christian Encarnacion-Strand hit .331/.405/.637 with 21 doubles, two triples, and 20 home runs. He was 5th in the league in home runs, 7th in batting average, 4th in slugging percentage, and 5th in OPS.
Where and how the Cincinnati Reds will play him will give manager David Bell and his coaching staff an interesting assignment. Encarnacion-Strand can play third base and first base, and there’s also the designated hitter spot. It’s likely that he will spend some time at all three spots and move around a little bit, along with some others in the lineup as the club plays the match ups a little bit to get everyone regular playing time.