Got his card cheap–1999 Just Mario Encarnacion.
Mario Encarnacion was a very well thought of prospect for the A’s in the late 90’s.
He was a five tool player but with some rough edges–mainly his defense and breaking balls. The A’s were confident that his issues were that of a young player learning the game and time would work out the kinks.
After ranking the A’s #6 prospect in 1999 and #4 in 2001, Oakland was tired of waiting for his production to catch up with the potential and cut bait on him. He was traded to the Rockies.
He did help net Jermain Dye, so that is nice.
Encarnacion’s issues continued with the Rockies. While he still showed all the tools you want in an All-Star, his baseball instincts lagged behind–he had poor disciple and the plate and defense was mistake prone.
He would spend parts of two seasons in the majors, but only rate 69 at bats and rack up -0.5 WAR.
In 2005 joined the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s (CPBL), playing for the Macoto Cobras. In early October he was found dead in his dorm room. Cause of death was a congenital medical condition. He was 30 years old.
I was really into the A’s in the late 90’s, and he was a player that I really rooted for. I got his autograph in person in 2004 while he was playing for the AAA Rockies.
I know it’s silly, but his death hit me a little. Since then other players I have met or rooted for have died, but he was the first.