Encarnacion-Strand notches first Wind Surge cycle
Only four days into his Double-A tenure, Christian Encarnacion-Strand is holding himself to a high standard. “Today, honestly, the focus was just honestly to have a better day than I did yesterday,” Encarnacion-Strand said. “Yesterday, I didn’t have really good day, didn’t have any hits yesterday, so today I just
Only four days into his Double-A tenure, Christian Encarnacion-Strand is holding himself to a high standard.
“Today, honestly, the focus was just honestly to have a better day than I did yesterday,” Encarnacion-Strand said. “Yesterday, I didn’t have really good day, didn’t have any hits yesterday, so today I just tried to focus on making solid contact.”
Mission accomplished, times four.
The Twins' No. 24 prospect notched the first cycle in franchise history for the Double-A Wind Surge, going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored, to lead his team to an 11-1 rout of visiting Arkansas.
Encarnacion-Strand got his difficult knocks out of the way early. The third baseman raced to an RBI triple -- which was nearly an inside-the-park homer -- off the wall in center field in the first inning and left the yard with a solo home run to right in the second. After a double to left in the fourth, he finally realized he was on the precipice of a milestone.
“I didn’t even know I was going for the cycle until I only had to hit a single,” he said. “I had no clue until I got to second base and our [third-base coach Tucker Frawley] said, ‘Next time, just stop at first.’”
In his next trip to the plate in the sixth, Encarnacion-Strand hit a flare to shallow center.
“I saw it go up, and I said, ‘Please be enough. Please be enough to get down,’” he said.
CHRISTIAN ENCARNACION-STRAND HITS FOR THE CYCLE!!! THIS MAN CANNOT BE CONTAINED! 🔥 🔥— Wichita Wind Surge (@WindSurgeICT) July 17, 2022
Encarnacion-Strand becomes the first player in Wind Surge History to hit for the cycle! pic.twitter.com/c1fo9u1MOr
It was. The Oklahoma State product picked up his third RBI of the game on his fourth hit, part of a five-run Wind Surge inning that pushed the score to its final margin. Wichita piled up 16 hits in the victory, going 5-for-14 line with runners in scoring position.
“When we’re all contributing like that, it makes it a little easier, takes the pressure off during the game for sure,” Encarnacion-Strand said. “I would say it’s a lot less stressful than if the game’s tied or we’re only up by one or two.”
The 22-year-old crushed his professional debut last year after going to the Twins in the fourth round. The corner infielder batted .391/.424/.598 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 22 games for Single-A Fort Myers.
“For me, it’s just making sure that I swing at strikes,” he said of his emphasis this year. “If they come in the zone, don’t miss. When they don’t come in the zone, take it. That’s my focus in all levels I’ve played at, just try to hit the strikes. Don’t miss when they leave it there, and when they throw a ball, be disciplined enough to take it.”
This season, Encarnacion-Strand started at High-A Cedar Rapids and impressed there too. In 74 contests, Encarnacion-Strand batted .296/.375/.630 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs to earn a July 14 promotion to Double-A.
“I like that I was consistently making hard contact [in the Midwest League],” he said. “I went through a little slump, and that was new for me because I never really went through a little slump like that. Once I figured out it’s OK to do that, then I just went back to my same approach, just try to make solid contact.”
After next week’s four-day break for Minor Leaguers, Encarnacion-Strand will return to the Wind Surge lineup, where he’s posted a slash line of .412/.474/1.176 line through four games. But he feels like he still has more to accomplish this year.
“I just like to set goals,” he said. “I’ve always been a person who sets goals. I had the goal for Cedar Rapids to get to my  home runs by the All-Star Break, and I did. Now here, it’s just to try to make solid contact all year and hit for average and power at the same time.”
Tyler Maun is a reporter for MiLB.com and co-host of “The Show Before The Show” podcast. You can find him on Twitter @tylermaun.