While Wilkelman Gonzalez may have stood out above the rest in the Florida Complex League last summer, the year fellow Red Sox pitching prospect Juan Daniel Encarnacion put together in 2021 should not be forgotten about, either.
Encarnacion, who turns 21 in March, made 12 appearances — 10 of which were starts — for the FCL Red Sox after being assigned to the rookie-level affiliate out of minor-league spring training.
In those dozen outings centered around the Fort Myers-area, the young right-hander posted a 2.96 ERA and 4.03 xFIP to go along with 56 strikeouts to 11 walks over 45 2/3 total innings of work.
Among the 15 pitchers who accrued at least 40 innings in the Florida Complex League last year, Encarnacion ranked fourth in innings pitched, first in strikeouts, first in strikeouts per nine innings (11.04), fourth in walks per nine innings (2.17), first in strikeout rate (30.3%), fourth in walk rate (5.9%), fourth in batting average against (.199), first in WHIP (0.99), second in ERA, and first in xFIP, per FanGraphs.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds in the team’s media guide, Encarnacion originally signed with the Red Sox for just $40,000 out of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic in September 2018.
He made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following year and wound up leading the team in both starts (14) and strikeouts (49) before heading off to fall instructs.
After the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Encarnacion returned to fall instructs and showed some flashes of potential there while making preparations for the 2021 campaign.
Between the time fall instructs ended and the ’21 FCL season began, the 20-year-old hurler’s velocity “increased from 88-91 mph to 90-93 mph,” SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote in September.
Cundall noted that Encarnacion’s breaking ball “flashed average in a recent start and he also showed a changeup” while adding that “his best attribute right now is his control, as he throws a lot of strikes and shows some feel for command.”
Despite his aforementioned height and weight listed in the Red Sox’ media guide, Cundall writes that Encarnacion “has some projection remaining in his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame.”
On that note, SoxProspects.com projects that Encarnacion will begin the 2022 season alongside Gonzalez at Low-A Salem. Unlike Gonzalez, though, Encarnacion will not become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft until the end of 2023.
(Picture of Juan Daniel Encarnacion: Bryan Green/Flickr)