The Twins Minor League affiliates had some hot hitters throughout the month of April. As many focused on Royce Lewis’ return to the diamond for the first time in over two years, other names such as Charles Mack, Spencer Steer, and Curtis Terry showed what they are capable of at the plate. Although all these mentioned names had great months in April, they did not finish in the top three places with the Twins Daily voting results for minor league hitter of the month.
Now here are the results of the top four vote-getters for the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month.
Honorable Mention 3: Royce Lewis, St. Paul Saints
The biggest question mark for many Twins fans coming into the 2022 season was how quickly Royce Lewis could re-acclimate himself to the game, the daily grind after missing two full seasons. The number didn't seem as important as simply getting back on the field, showing health, and getting at-bats and time at shortstop. Well, the 2017 top pick played in 21 Saints games and hit .320/.441/.587 (1.028) with nine doubles, a triple, and three home runs. He has hit the ball hard. He has hit for power. He has shown off his speed with infield singles and stolen bases. Just as important, he has shown very good command of the strike zone. In 93 plate appearances, he has 18 strikeouts (19.3%) and 15 walks (16.1%). Also, he has played well defensively at shortstop. He has a couple of errors, but he has made plays going in each direction. After so much time, the 23-year-old needs to just keep playing and enjoying the game. As you can see in the updated Prospect Tracker, he has returned to the #1 spot on the Twins Daily Prospect rankings.
Honorable Mention 2: Emmanuel Rodriguez, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
Emmanuel Rodriguez was ranked #15 on the Twins Daily Top 20 prospects coming into the season. Now he has risen to the rank of number ten and proved why he belongs there during the month of April. Rodriguez did not have the flashiest batting average in April. He hit just .241, but the other two-thirds of his triple slash were fantastic in April with a .440 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage.
Rodriguez had also fared much better at home than on the road in his 17 games played in April. Rodriguez crushed the ball at home hitting .320/.485/.680 in eight games at Fort Myers, but he hit .172/.405/.483 on the road in nine games. If Rodriguez can bring his hot hitting on the road as he does at home, he may find himself further up this list for the month of May.
Honorable Mention 1: Kyler Fedko, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
Kyler Fedko is not a power hitter like his teammate Rodriguez, but he certainly is a Twins prospect to keep an eye on at Fort Myers. Fedko had an excellent start to his season in the month of April posting a .350/.438/.550 triple slash with nine extra-base hits in 17 games.
The 22-year-old outfielder played in 23 games last season with the Mighty Mussels after the Twins made him their 12th-round pick out of Connecticut. He has already eclipsed his doubles, triples, and home runs from last season. With more regular playing time for Fedko and a continuation of his current hot streak at the plate, there is a good chance he could see playing time at Cedar Rapids come June.
Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cedar Rapids Kernels
If Twins fans didn’t know the name Christian Encarnacion-Strand before April, they certainly know it now. Encarnacion-Strand had one of the best months of any minor league hitter with the Kernels posting a .410/459/.680 (1.138) with four doubles, a triple, five home runs, and 23 runs batted in. He also stole three bases.
He started the season on fire. In the first game of the season, he went 4-for-5 with two homers and nine RBI. The next day, he went 5-for-5 with a double, a homer, and five RBI. He had hits in 15 of 19 games during the month. And in two of those games, he had five of his seven walks. He had 11 multi-hit games including a stretch of seven out of nine games.
It's what he's been doing since the Twins selected him in the fourth round of last year's draft. He had played at Oklahoma State where his head coach was Robin Ventura and his hitting coach was Matt Holliday. After signing, he joined the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels and had hits in each of his first 20 games and in 21 of 22 games. In those games, he hit .391/.424/.598 (1.022) with two doubles, two triples and four home runs.
Thanks to his elite month, Encarnacion-Strand has found himself on the Updated Twins Daily Top 20 prospects list at # 18. In 19 games across April, Encarnacion-Strand was arguably the second most talked about Twins prospect behind Lewis. It still may be a while before Encarnacion-Strand finds himself in St. Paul, but he is on a streak that could see him at Double AA Wichita in the not-so-distant future.
Feel free to share your own rankings for Twins Minor League hitters of the month for April in the comment section below.