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Jerar Encarnación began the 2022 season in Double-A Pensacola. He struggled when he initially got to that level in 2021, but his second time around, Jerar looked like a completely different player. Slashing .358/.426/.583/1.010 with 8 HR/18 RBI, Encarnación was pounding on the door for a promotion.
On May 17, Jerar was assigned to the Triple-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. He continued to find success at the plate, slashing .265/.333/.470/.803 with 14 HR/40 RBI. After entering the year without many expectations, he re-established himself as a notable Marlins prospect.
In June, the Miami Marlins called up Encarnación, and in his first major league game, he hit a game-winning grand slam.
However, he had a rough cup of coffee overall (.182/.210/.338/.548 with 3 HR/14 RBI). Jerar had a wRC+ of 51 (the league average is 100).
Strikeout rate was already a concern for Jerar in the minors—at 25.7% in AA and 29.3% in AAA—but that climbed even more in the majors, to 39.5%. In particular, he was among MLB’s worst at making contact on pitches in the strike zone, per FanGraphs. Jerar is a defensive liability at times. Although he has a strong arm, accuracy can be an issue and his routes in the outfield need improvement. His backup defensive position is first base, but he has only 38 games of MiLB experience there.
Listed at 250 pounds, Jerar is surprisingly fast. His Sprint Speed was better than the MLB average in 2022 and similar to teammates Bryan De La Cruz and Nick Fortes.
Encarnación debuted with Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Winter League. In 23 regular season games, he was among the league’s top offensive players, slashing .333/.438/.513/.950 with 3 HR/17 RBI. He placed second in Rookie of the Year voting.
Águilas gave Jerar occasional reps at first base and he posted additional videos of himself working out at the position. In an interview last month, he told Andrés Bolivar of Con Las Bases Llenas that he is prepared to play wherever the Marlins put him.
Jerar will have a difficult time earning a spot on the Marlins Opening Day roster, but there could be a bigger opportunity for him by the middle of the season. Starting first baseman Garrett Cooper is in a contract year and I predicted Cooper to be dealt in his season preview article. Designated hitter Jorge Soler should be more productive than he was in 2022, and he’ll have the ability to opt out of his contact and become a free agent—the Marlins may consider trading him if they aren’t in the mix for the 2023 postseason.
A major weakness of the 2022 Marlins was poor hitting against left-handed pitching. If that is the case again, Jerar has value to them as a platoon player.
Will Jerar Encarnación play more of his games in the majors or the minors in 2023?
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