MLB Draft Profile: Christian Encarnacion-Strandby Andersen Pickard June 28, 2021 0 comments
The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11, 2021. We take a look at Christian Encarnacion-Strand, a power-hitting third baseman with a strong arm but enough concerns to significantly temper expectations.
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Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Third Baseman, Oklahoma State
Weight: 225 lbs.
2019: 56G, .402/.473/.828, 84 H, 70 RBI, 22 HR, 21 BB, 42 K
2020: 25G, .430/.505/.977, 37 H, 33 RBI, 11 HR, 12 BB, 14 K
2021: 56G, .361/.442/.661, 82 H, 66 RBI, 15 HR, 20 BB, 50 K
2019 and 2020 at Yavapai College. 2021 at Oklahoma State.
Encarnacion-Strand is a solid hitter whose top trait is his power. With that said, he’s shown off a strong arm in the field, too, though a poor running ability could shift him for first base.
Power is Encarnacion-Strand’s top tool, as evidenced by his 38 homers over 137 games from 2019 through 2021. He also demonstrated an overall satisfying feel for putting the ball in play, and this has been clear for quite some time thanks to his excessive slugging percentage rates. All in all, there’s the potential for some big power production out of Encarnacion-Strand once he reaches the pros.
Encarnacion-Strand also has a very good throwing arm that has allowed him to survive at third base so far. This talented cannon helps complement his average fielding ability and poor running ability and is likely the last remaining thread that stands between him and first base. Now, it’s just a matter of how long he can prove that his arm is the real deal.
Of course, Encarnacion-Strand’s biggest weakness is his running ability. Not only does this limit him on the basepaths, but it has also hurt him drastically in the field. His difficulty when moving and limited range could make it tricky for him to stay at third base long-term, which certainly doesn’t bode well for his draft stock. If he does move, first base makes the most sense, though whichever team drafts him will likely work with him at third for quite some time before positioning him on the other side of the infield.
Encarnacion-Strand’s hitting ability is another area that needs to be talked about. The third baseman may have produced tremendous results at Oklahoma State, but that doesn’t mean he’s an elite hitter. Now 21 years old, he has been seen swinging the bat at an angle that is too upwards; in turn, this has led to plenty of swings and misses. We got a first-hand look at the increase in swings and misses when he logged just 20 walks compared to 50 strikeouts in 2021.
Pro Comparison: Gio Urshela
I can’t get away from seeing the similarities between Urshela and Encarnacion-Strand. The former, who currently patrols third base for the New York Yankees, is a solid hitter with decent above-average power but a high K/BB rate. He’s got a good arm in the field and has locked down third base long-term, though he’s not particularly fast, either (one stolen base in 2021). The 29-year-old bats and throws right-handed, is the same height as Encarnacion-Strand, and checks in just 10 pounds lighter. All in all, the comparison between the two third basemen just makes sense.
Draft Projection: Fifth-Round Pick
Encarnacion-Strand’s ability to produce huge offensive numbers at Oklahoma State was great, but he’s still not an exceptionally intriguing prospect. In fact, his lack of projectability in the field is a major knock here as there’s a big difference between a first baseman and a third baseman. If Encarnacion-Strand can survive at third base, he’s a quick fielder with a strong arm and powerful bat who patrols the hot corner. If not, he’s a first baseman with wasted defensive talent and an offensive skill set that lines up as merely average alongside other first basemen. At the end of the day, he’ll likely be picked in the first five rounds thanks to his offensive upside.