When will Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand make his MLB debut?

Cincinnati Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand
Cincinnati Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

The time of year where we overreact to the spring training performances of our beloved Cincinnati Reds prospects is upon us.

Whether the breakout performances from guys like Will Benson and TJ Friedl will translate to the regular season is a question nobody knows the answer to. However, it's difficult not to feel exhilarated watching this new wave of young talent and prospects perform at such a high level thus far.

To go along with Benson and Friedl, both of whom could find themselves starting in the outfield on Opening Day, we've seen Jose Barrero with his newly-adjusted swing start to look competent again, as well as impressive springs from infielders Matt McLain, Spencer Steer and Jonathan India, who have combined for 16 walks and just six strikeouts.

When will Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand make his MLB debut?

Now, moving on to the guy that has turned heads not just at Reds camp, but across the league as well, we are left with Christian Encarnacion-Strand. The 23-year-old has burst onto the scene with authority to begin 2023. As of Wednesday, Encarnacion-Strand is 11-for-17 with three home runs, a league-high 10 RBIs, and just one strike out.

For those who were familiar with Encarnacion-Strand's stats before this spring, this onslaught may not be all that shocking. After all, he did obliterate the ball in his first full season of professional baseball in the Twins organization before being dealt to the Reds with Steer and Steve Hajjar in the Tyler Mahle trade before last year's trade deadline.

In 2022, Encarnacion-Strand hit .304/.368/.587 with 32 home runs, 114 RBIs and a .955 OPS in 122 games played. To accentuate the absurdity of his season last year, his numbers in Double-A Chattanooga (.873 OPS), were the worst of any stop he has had in his professional career. To put it bluntly, he just flat out rakes at every level and there isn't much evidence so far that could counter that.

So, why is Encarnacion-Strand not regarded as a more valuable prospect among national publications? The answer there seems to be pretty clear. While the offensive potential is sky high for the fourth-round pick in 2021, he wasn't considered a top-tier prospect coming out of Oklahoma State.

The fact that he likely profiles more as a first baseman and designated hitter in the future, especially considering the log jam on the left side of the infield within the Reds organization, definitely hurts his value as well. Many position players you see ranked in the top 100 of prospect lists have a more well-rounded skill set. Unfortunately for Encarnacion-Strand, his is suboptimal.

Despite the scorching-hot start to the spring for Christian Encarnacion-Strand, he still faces an uphill battle in his quest to make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. There are still some possible scenarios that might play out which could lead to a roster spot opening up for the right-handed hitting slugger.

Ideally, he continues to torch opposing pitching for the rest of this spring and forces the Reds to give him a look on the big-league club. A couple years ago that scenario occurred Jonathan India in a season that crowned him the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year.

As badly as I want to believe Encarnacion-Strand will have his name announced during the pregame player introductions on March 30th, I'm going to air on the side of caution and predict that he does not make the Opening Day roster.

While I think he starts in Triple-A Louisville, I don't think he will have to wait very long to make his major league debut. Similar to Nick Senzel in 2019, an early-May promotion seems to be the most likely outcome.

dark. Next. Ranking every prospect's chances to make the Reds roster