A number of young talents have already made their way to the Reds this season, and now one more is reportedly set to join the fray. 1B/3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand is set to join the Reds as Cincinnati looks to re-gain footing in the race for the NL Central title. Here’s a closer look at the 23-year-old phenom.
A Look at Encarnacion-Strand
A fourth-round pick by the Twins in the 2021 MLB Draft, 1B/3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand destroyed NCAA pitching with Oklahoma State two years ago. “CES” hit .361/.442/.661 with 15 home runs, 35 extra base hits, and 66 RBI with the Cowboys, then hit .391 across 22 games with Fort Myers (A) to cap off an incredible year.
Encarnacion-Strand continued to pummel MiLB pitching in 2022, when he belted 20 home runs across 74 games at Cedar Rapids (A+) before a promotion to Wichita (AA). His time in Kansas would be limited, though, as the Twins packaged CES, Steve Hajjar, and fellow infielder Spencer Steer to Cincinnati in exchange for Tyler Mahle.
The Mahle deal does not look good for the Twins, as the 28-year-old made just nine starts in two seasons in Minnesota and is set to miss the remainder of 2023 thanks to UCL reconstruction. The Reds, on the other hand, picked up two young bats that could be in Cincinnati for years to come.
One of our June fantasy prospect hitters to watch, Encarnacion-Strand hit .331/.405/.637 across 67 games prior to the promotion. He possesses good power and contact skills. The 23-year-old generates a lot of bat speed, has a compact swing, and controls himself well at the plate, which helps him drive the ball almost effortlessly.
He will strike out, as indicated by his 24.5% career MiLB K% rate that would rate as slightly below-average by MLB standard. Still, he does have the potential to hit .270-.280 in the Majors and could benefit from a hitter-friendly stadium in Cincinnati.
Defensively, he’s played first and third in the Minors and may very well see time at both positions in Cincinnati. Scouting reports do laud his arm, which could give him a chance to stick at third (h/t MLB.com)
A Look at the Reds
The impending promotion of Encarnacion-Strand seemed inevitable, given how well the 23-year-old performed in Louisville (AAA). However, it will be interesting to see how the Reds fit CES into their plans for right now.
As of now, Cincinnati’s corner infield options aside from CES are Spencer Steer, Elly De La Cruz, and Joey Votto at first. Steer — who can also play left field, as well — is off to a cold start in July, while Votto went 1-8 (.125) in the Reds’ series against Milwaukee. However, Votto hit .286/.390/.714 through his first 41 PA of July.
Obviously, Cincinnati wouldn’t have called up the 23-year-old if the Reds didn’t have a plan to work him in. The Reds clearly have options, as Cincinnati can move players, like Steer to the outfield, around to fit CES’ bat into the lineup. And, the promotion could give the Reds a jolt after a tough series against NL Central rival Milwaukee.
The Reds offense struggled in Cincinnati’s first series back from the break against the Brewers. Even though the Reds did matchup against two tough righties in Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, Cincinnati scored just three runs and ceded first place back to the Brewers in the process.