The Cincinnati Reds were competitive until 2021.
That year, they were actually in possession of one of the Wild Card spots in the National League at one point in the second half, but didn’t have enough to keep up their pace and were eliminated.
After that season, ownership decided to cut payroll and started trading their expensive (or about to be) talent.
In a deadline trade last year, pitcher Tyler Mahle was sent to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for three prospects.
One of them was corner infielder Christian Encarnacion-Strand.
Fast forward a few months, and the slugger is having an explosive spring training for the Reds.
“Christian Encarnacion-Strand continues his (hot) spring with another homer for the #Reds. Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect has 3 long balls in his first 8 games,” MLB Pipeline tweeted.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand continues his 🔥 spring with another homer for the #Reds.
Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect has 3 long balls in his first 8 games. pic.twitter.com/kqBoVR6eQx
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 7, 2023
Three homers in eight spring games are not too shabby for a player that only has 48 games of experience at Double-A.
He is certainly making his power felt in games in the early going, and the Reds appear to have a very good one for the future.
Encarnacion-Strand was a fourth-round draft pick in 2021, so he has prospect pedigree.
His tools are loud: between High-A and Double-A last year, he slugged 32 home runs and stole eight bases.
He is prone to striking out, but hits the ball so hard that his batting averages in the minors are continually over .290.
If he can keep the strikeouts in check and master the high minors this season, there is a chance he sees the majors before the end of the year.
He could be an everyday contributor in the Reds’ lineup as soon as 2024, and he profiles as a solid starter with 30-homer power.NEXT: Joey Votto Makes A Hilarious Bold Prediction