No. 22 prospect goes yard in Triple-A debut

May 17th, 2022

MIAMI -- Marlins prospect Jerar Encarnacion's comeback campaign received yet another boost, as he went 2-for-4 with two extra-base hits in his Triple-A debut in Tuesday's 8-4 loss to Durham.

After striking out in his first at-bat, Encarnacion doubled to center and knocked a two-run homer to right as the cleanup hitter in a Jacksonville lineup that also featured outfielders JJ Bleday (MLB Pipeline's No. 67 overall prospect) and Peyton Burdick (Miami's No. 10 prospect).

The organization had seen enough so far in 2022 to promote Encarnacion, who slashed .358/.426/.583 with three doubles and eight home runs in 31 games for Double-A Pensacola. He ranked second in the Southern League in batting average, hits (43) and runs scored (26).

"Don't swing at a bad ball," Encarnacion said last week. "If you're late in the box, you're swinging at everything. So it's, 'Stay in the zone. Swing at good pitches.' If you're staying here, you'll never strike out on a bad pitch."

This hot start at the plate follows a forgettable 2021, when Encarnacion was limited to just 65 games between Single-A Jupiter and Pensacola due to a right knee injury and a broken finger. He slashed .221/.308/.396 with nine homers and 29 RBIs.

It was even more disappointing considering Encarnacion's status in the system after belting the go-ahead grand slam in the 2019 Arizona Fall League championship game. Following a missed season of development due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization had protected Encarnacion by adding him to the 40-man roster in November 2020.

"The last year, I put in the trash," Encarnacion told last week. "I forgot about last year. It's a new year, a new Jerar Encarnacion. Keep it going. Doesn't matter what happened last year."

Due to an expedited Spring Training schedule, Encarnacion saw limited action this March, but he made the most of it by going 2-for-7 with one double, one homer and four RBIs. These were early signs a bounceback season was in the cards for Encarnacion.

Ranked as Miami's No. 22 prospect, Encarnacion can play both corner outfield spots and first base. According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, he has grades of 40 (hit), 50 (power), 45 (run), 60 (arm) and 45 (field). The 24-year-old also has light-tower power to all fields.

"He had a positive attitude about the whole thing," Marlins director of player development Geoff DeGroot told last month. "He showed up to camp in great shape, which was very great for us to see that he means business this year. I think he always means business, but you could visibly see it. He had a strong Spring Training, and he's carried that right into the season.

"His tools are as good as anyone we have in the organization. The power, the arm strength. He can run, he can defend. He can do a lot of things, and we're looking forward to watching him put it together this year."