Encarnacion leads Salt River to AFL title

Marlins No. 17 prospect breaks tie with booming grand slam

The Salt River Rafters winning the 2019 Arizona Fall League championship. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

By Rob Terranova / MiLB.com | October 26, 2019 6:32 PM

Royce Lewis' effort carried Salt River to the Arizona Fall League Championship Game, and one swing of the bat by Jerar Encarnacion sealed the title for the Rafters.

The top Twins prospect was named the circuit's MVP on Saturday before the No. 17 Marlins prospect broke a 1-1 tie with a long grand slam to lift Salt River past Surprise, 5-1, at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

"It's pretty special," Lewis told MLB.com. "I'm just glad my family and friends are able to come out today and celebrate with me."

Lewis sparkled at the plate despite trying out new field positions during the AFL season. He led the circuit with 30 hits and posted a .353/.411/.565 slash line with a .975 OPS, three dingers, nine doubles, 21 runs scored, 20 RBIs and five stolen bases over 22 games.

It was just the latest piece of hardware for MLB.com's No. 9 overall prospect, who was named MVP of the Fall Stars Game after launching a two-run homer to power the East squad to a 4-2 victory. Lewis also was deemed the AFL Player of the Week for Week 4 after he went 6-for-10 with two doubles, three RBIs and three walks over 13 plate appearances spanning three games.


Gameday box score


"Whenever the day comes, I now understand and know how to be a pro and how to be a professional and go about my business," Lewis said. "Whether I get a hit or not, whether I make an error or make a great Gold Glove defensive play, I'll be the same person every day."

On Saturday, the 2017 top overall pick dropped a double into shallow right field in the seventh inning and legged out an infield single and reached second after an errant throw went into the stands in the ninth.

Second-ranked Nationals prospect Luis Garcia opened the scoring for the Saguaros with a line drive that deflected off Twins righty Dakota Chalmers, allowing No. 8 Rangers prospect Bubba Thompson to cross the plate in the third. The Rafters responded immediately in the fourth.

Offseason MiLB include

Tampa Bay's seventh-ranked prospect Ronaldo Hernandez punched an RBI single up the middle that drove in No. 8 Royals prospect Kyle Isbel. Encarnacion stepped to the dish with the bases full and two outs and sent an 0-1 heater from Nats right-hander Sterling Sharp (0-1) nearly to the top of the hill beyond the left-field fence. The ball traveled 418 feet with an exit velocity of 109.6 mph.

"I'm always looking for that kind of a pitch," Encarnacion told MLB.com through a translator. "I made a good swing on it, it caught some air and went out of the ballpark. It felt great, it was a good hit."

Chalmers allowed a run on one hit and three walks while fanning three -- all in the opening frame. Ashton Goudeau earned the victory after giving up a hit over 2 2/3 scoreless frames. The Rockies righty finished with three punchouts and did not allow a run during his AFL campaign. He finished the regular season with 18 whiffs over 13 innings in six appearances.

Third-ranked Royals prospect Daniel Lynch yielded one hit with three strikeouts over three scoreless frames in the start for Salt River. The bullpen only allowed two hits over the final four innings.

"We had in our minds how we wanted the game to go, and it went according to plan," Rafters skipper Keith Johnson told MLB.com. "Ashton Goudeau came in and did really well. [Antonio Santos] does what he does, [Alex Valverde] did a great job to finish that inning off and [Alex Vesia] has been lights-out for us."

Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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