Joey Votto's prolonged absence could open the door for Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It's going to take a perfect storm for Christian Encarnacion-Strand to make his Cincinnati Reds debut sooner rather than later. Joey Votto's prolonged absence may allow for the Reds to move forward ahead of schedule.

If the Reds were fully healthy, one could make the argument that keeping Encarnacion-Strand down on the farm until midseason would be the prudent move. But the injury bug has hit the Reds hard this spring and could force the team's hand.

Votto has been out since Opening Day, and after being lifted from his rehab assignment, it may be awhile before the six-time All-Star gets back on the field. Wil Myers absence hasn't helped either, and Encarnacion-Strand could be making his big league debut very soon.

Joey Votto's prolonged absence could open the door for Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand.

While the Reds fanbase has made their desire to see Cincinnati's top prospects up in the big leagues apparent, the team's front office has resisted the urge to this point. Reds GM Nick Krall has cited the need for further development in the minor leagues as a key reason that fans have yet to see Matt McLain and Christian Encarnacion-Strand.

However, though it's a small sample size, the duo of McLain and Encarnacion-Strand have done nothing but impressed at Triple-A this season. With 100 at-bats now under his belt, McLain owns a 1.005 OPS and has seven home runs. Encarnacion-Strand, according to FanGraphs, has a wRC+ of 208. That's virtually unheard of.

The Reds roster, as currently constructed, makes it a little difficult for McLain to be called up at the moment, though some fancy maneuvering on the part of the Cincinnati front office could allow for it.

But with Joey Votto and Wil Myers on the IL, first base has seen better days. With Jason Vosler now off the roster, manager David Bell has resorted to using Spencer Steer and Tyler Stephenson at first base.

The latest injury updates, as it pertains to Votto, have centered around the former MVP rehabbing in Cincinnati. Votto is still recovering from shoulder and biceps surgery that he underwent in August last year.

Now would appear to be a great time to see if Christian Encarnacion-Strand is ready for The Show. While it's not on-brand for the Cincinnati Reds, the numbers Encarnacion-Strand is posting at Triple-A are difficult to ignore. Couple that with what the coaching staff saw during spring training, and it's unlikely that the club can leave Encarnacion-Strand down on the farm for much longer.

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