Ranking in PBI 2016 Top 50 Phillies Prospects: 35
Ranking in PBI 2015 Top 50 Phillies Prospects: Not ranked
The Phillies were late entrants into the international market and many of their early signings weren't of the high profile variety. Of course, there were exceptions, like Maikel Franco, who signed in 2010. One player the Phillies believe is going to be able to help the big league club at some point is Luis Encarnacion, a product of the Dominican Republic.
When the Phillies signed Encarnacion, he was a third baseman, but there weren't many who figured he would stick at that position. Instead, there were rumors of moving to the outfield, with first base as a last resort. The Phillies didn't waste time having him play outfield - he did play four games in left in 2014, but looked horribly out of place - instead, they moved him right to first base. The move hasn't been an instant success, but Encarnacion is showing improvement with the glove and bumped his fielding percentage at first from .970 in 2014 to .977 last season.
While where Encarnacion would be able to play was a question mark, his bat wasn't. What drew scouts to Encarnacion's offense were his quick hands and the fact that he seemed to just have some natural instincts that scouts thought could be built upon. His mechanics and approach at the plate were in need of some improvement, but like with his glove, Encarnacion is working to fix those holes and is making solid progress. Encarnacion was quick to swing at pitches out of the strike zone. He's striking out an average of once every 4.7 plate appearances, which is just under the GCL average of once every 4.9 plate appearances, so he's not so wild that it's going to be an issue. The question is, once his power begins to develop, will the strikeout numbers go up, and by how much?
As for his power, Encarnacion has some natural power. The 18-year old has shown decent power for his age, going deep once every 48 at-bats last season, well ahead of the GCL average of one homer for every 106.8 at-bats. Of course, rookie leagues aren't known for their big power numbers and Encarnacion will need to develop more power to match what has been expected of him since being scouted in the Dominican.
It's not likely that the Phillies will skip Encarnacion over Williamsport and send him to Lakewood this season, at least not to start. He may get a taste of Lakewood either to temporarily fill a hole or late in the season, if all goes well for him.