Encarnacion was a key piece of the Orioles trade-deadline deal with the Braves that needed four prospects and cash for Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day this past July. In his first full season of pro ball, Encarnacion has performed well, hitting .273 with 46 extra base hits, but his propensity for strikeouts and a lack of patience at the plate is holding back the profile.
Encarnacion has a strong, athletic and well-proportioned frame for a 20-year-old. Defensively, Encarnacion utilizes his average speed and good first-step quickness to have above-average range and he charges the ball well. His hands are average but he’ll get stiff when moving laterally, causing him to occasionally struggle with the routine play. The concern defensively is the arm, which is fringe-average and lacks the carry to hold down the hot corner long-term. Either first base or left field will be Encarnacion’s long-term defensive home.
At the plate, Encarnacion has plus bat speed and flashes plus raw power during batting practice. He starts with a square stance, stepping into the bucket with limited ability to cover the outer-third. He doesn’t adjust the barrel well and is more a mistake hitter than one who can spoil a well-located pitch. Encarnacion punishes hanging breaking pitches and fastballs left middle-in. The whiffs will never fully disappear due to his aggressive approach, but there’s serious power potential. Encarnacion could be a 16-20 HR type bat if he shores up some of the holes in his swing.
A toolsy power bat with middle-of-the-lineup potential, Encarnacion is the type of prospect Baltimore lacks in the system. Offense will have to carry the profile given the swing-and-miss concerns and likely move off third base. Encarnacion has extreme risk, but the ceiling is a mashing everyday left fielder. If the hit tool doesn’t come around, there’s still enough power potential for a platoon or bench bat.