During his 2011 season with the GCL Yankees, Encinas went 3-0 with a 5.08 ERA in twelve games, eleven of which he started. The California native held his opponents to one earned run or less in six of his outings.
This year with the RiverDogs, Encinas has had ten strikeouts and a 0.75 ERA. The 21-year old worked hard to improve his game during Spring Training.
"They had me working on going north to south," Encinas stated. "I needed to get my arm angled the right way."
The right-handed pitcher mainly concentrated on one goal during Instructional League. This is something he says is a key element to his success as a RiverDog.
"During Instructs the main thing I worked on was being able to really focus," he said. "It would be very easy for me to lose that focus after I commit an error but by working on my concentration, it helped me improve my mental game."
Encinas came out of Spring Training with added confidence. The 6-foot-3 pitcher reexamined what aspects of his game he needed to work on. But overall he had a great experience in the offseason.
"It went well," he said. "I really couldn't ask for anything better."
Pitching coach for the RiverDogs, Danny Borrell worked with Encinas extensively on his curveball and fastball command. Borrell says that Encinas' hard work has translated well into the season.
"I liked his mental approach to the game," Borrell exclaimed. "It doesn't seem like he is being fazed much by anything."
"That is going to be the biggest step for him," Borell continued, "trying to approach the game the same way in a relaxed method as he tries to go up the ladder."
Last season Encinas began to increase his velocity on his pitches and as a result started to struggle with his control. Encinas quickly learned that he had to harness his power.
"I just need to stay within myself," Encinas added. "This is something I worked on during Spring Training and has helped me get much more control of it."
According to Encinas, his first couple of starts this season have gone better than he could of expected.
"I feel strong," Encinas affirmed. "I'd like to think I go the distance and hopefully during the year you'll see me go to seven or eight innings."
RiverDogs' manager Al Pedrique identified Encinas' hard work ethic and professional attitude throughout Spring Training. Pedrique has also been impressed with how Encinas has started the 2013 season.
"I thought he did a good job," Pedrique said. "He could improve his control though and most importantly his consistency."
Yet Pedrique knows that as the season progresses Encinas will only get better. Overall the RiverDog's manager knows that if Encinas keeps the ball down he will improve throughout the rest of the season.
"Once he feels more comfortable as the season moves on, I think he is going to help us a lot and have a great year," Pedrique said. "If he (Encinas) trusts his approach, he will be very successful. By becoming more confident in his approach, it will all come together for Gabe."