Jerar Encarnacion Turns Heads With His Power
Jerar Encarnacion is a secret no more.
The 21-year-old Dominican is a strapping 6-foot-4, 220-pound right fielder who had recorded six assists through 32 games at low Class A Clinton this year.
"He has a cannon strapped to his right arm,” said Mike Jacobs, who coached Encarnacion last year at short-season Batavia and is his manager again this season in the Midwest League.
Encarnacion’s offense has developed more slowly, but the righthanded batter had hit .333/.397/.538 with a career-high six home runs through mid-May.
With a natural power stroke to right-center field, Encarnacion has gotten better at pulling the ball as pitchers have been pounding him inside, trying to negate his desired swing path.
Jacobs said Encarnacion, who signed as an international free agent in September 2015, would have received more attention last year had he not been injured. He got off to an incredible start in the New York-Penn League, hitting .479 through 11 games, before sitting out 13 days and struggling with his timing upon his return.
Encarnacion hit .215 in 32 games after returning to the Batavia lineup, and he fared even worse—4-for-54 (.074)—when the Marlins pushed him to low Class A in mid-August.
This year, though, there had been no issues.
"There’s nothing not to like,” Jacobs said. "For a big guy, he plays the outfield well. You wouldn’t think he can cover as much ground as he does, but he seems to come out of nowhere to make catches. He’s really quick, and he gets good reads. And with his arm, you hope people try to run on him.
"Offensively, he has power to all fields. What has surprised a lot of people is how good a two-strike hitter he is . . . as long as he doesn’t chase.”
With his hot start, Encarnacion has thrust himself onto the Marlins' prospect radar.
"He’s fun to watch," Jacobs said.
— Not even an early-season wrist injury could slow Monte Harrison at Triple-A New Orleans. He hit the ground running on April 11 and had batted .281/.365/.463 with five homers and 12 stolen bases through 30 games. Swing changes Harrison adopted in the Arizona Fall League appeared to be helping him make more contact. His strikeout rate dropped from 37 percent at Double-A last year to 31 percent this season.
— New Orleans righthander Zac Gallen was likely closing in on a big league callup. Thanks in part to adding a new cutter, he led the Pacific Coast League with a 1.16 ERA, a 0.55 WHIP and 64 strikeouts through eight starts.