Nearly every young Cincinnati Reds prospect has found themselves at the center of a position change discussion this season.
No matter the talent level, nearly everybody on the Reds roster has seen time at multiple positions. Rookies Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, and Elly De La Cruz have all seen time at various positions all over the diamond during their short stint in the big leagues. A career-infielder, Steer has even ventured into the outfield.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who made a position change earlier this spring from third base to first base, has seen time at both corner outfield spots during his 2023 season at Triple-A Louisville.
Position change paves way for top Reds prospect to play alongside Joey Votto.
But, with the impending return of Joey Votto and the presence of both Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer, you can understand why Christian Encarnacion-Strand's call-up to the majors is a bit more complex than the likes of De La Cruz and Matt McLain.
Encarnacion-Strand's eventual promotion to the majors needs to come with an understanding that he'll have an everyday spot in the Reds lineup. Threading that needle has been rather difficult, at least that's what we all thought. Perhaps the Cincinnati Reds, or rather the Louisville Bats, have found a solution.
For the first time in his professional career, Encarnacion-Strand is drawing a start on the outfield grass. On Thursday night, Encarnacion-Strand occupied right field and hit third in the Bats lineup. This switch, with the results pending of course, in increased versatilty for the young Reds prospect.
This revelation could prompt Cincinnati to accelerate Christian Encarnacion-Strand's path to the big leagues, and allow the club to slot the 23-year-old alongside the veteran Joey Votto. While some Reds fans seem a bit unwilling to accept this idea, Votto will see considerable playing time at first base upon his return.
Encarnacion-Strand hasn't excelled enough defensively to warrant unquestioned inclusion on the infield dirt, so moving the slugger to the outfield could have multiple benefits. Encarnacion-Strand has never had good speed, even for an infielder, but he does possess a plus-arm, which should translate well to right field.
This transition isn't guranteed to stick. This should be seen more as an experiment than anything else, but if the Cincinnati Reds highly-touted prospect is able to seamlessly transition to the outfield grass, his value within the organization will skyrocket and his call-up will only hasten.