Jerar Encarnación had little left to prove in the upper minors—it was just a matter of finding an appropriate time to elevate him to the Marlins active roster. That time finally came on Friday, when he and Lewin Díaz were called up as replacements for Jesús Aguilar and Jesús Sánchez, who have been placed on the COVID IL.
Encarnación is a true “homegrown” player, signed by the Marlins as an international free agent way back in 2015. The Dominican outfielder had his initial prospect breakout with Low-A Clinton in 2019. He finished that year in the Arizona Fall League, mashing a game-winning grand slam in the league’s championship game. Even back then, there was no denying his potential to hit for power to all fields.
Encarnación’s career stalled in 2020 and 2021 due to a combination of COVID restrictions/cancellations, an inconsistent plate approach and injuries.
However, he’s gotten fully back on track this year. Encarnación is slashing .313/.385/.518 (137 wRC+) in 57 combined games at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Jacksonville. His home run total (13) is tied for the second-highest among all players in the Marlins farm system, trailing only JJ Bleday (14). The 24-year-old has been especially dominant against left-handed pitching—the Fish are hopeful that will translate, because their collective 73 wRC+ vs. lefties is dead last among MLB teams.
Encarnación gained some experience at first base in recent years. At one point, it seemed like he would be too clumsy/mistaken-prone to stick in the outfield, but he’s made meaningful improvements in that area in 2022.
Encarnación is currently my 17th-ranked Marlins prospect and will become the third different Marlin to make his major league debut this season (joining Joe Dunand and Aneurys Zabala).
When everybody’s healthy, the Marlins have a first base/designated hitter/corner outfield logjam. Trades are inevitable as a 40-man roster crunch looms. The easiest way for Encarnación to insulate himself from the noise is to produce in whatever big league opportunities he gets.
The Marlins have club control over Encarnación through at least the 2028 season. They also have one more post-2022 minor league option year to use if necessary.