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Firsthand Observation: Enyel De Los Santos

Enyel De Los Santos pitches against the Buffalo Bisons on June 12, 2018. De Los Santos was the winning pitcher in the IronPigs 2-0 win. (Photo by Cheryl Pursell)

The Phillies acquired Enyel De Los Santos in the trade that sent Freddy Galvis to San Diego over the winter. It was the second time in his young career that De Los Santos had been traded, with the Padres having acquired him from Seattle along with infielder Nelson Ward for Joaquin Benoit in November, 2015.

The 6′ 3″, 170 pound right-hander had an impressive season in 2017 in the hitter friendly Texas League pitching for San Antonio. De Los Santos went 10-6 with a 3.78 ERA. The Phillies had him open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and he hasn’t disappointed.

De Los Santos is at his best when he works quickly. In a game earlier this season against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he started the game working slowly and it showed in the results. After giving up a base-hit and a walk to the first two hitters, he started to find a groove and picked up the pace. From there, things went much better and he wound up stranding both runners.

In a most recent outing against Pawtucket, he was going at a brisk pace from the opening of the game and put together his most impressive outing as an IronPig. He finished with seven shutout innings allowing just one hit and two walks. Manager Gary Jones allowed him to throw 108 pitches in the game.

De Los Santos, 22, showed poise beyond his years in the top of the fourth inning. After walking the first two batters, pitching coach Dave Lundquist visited the mound to deliver a message which the young pitcher grasped quickly.

“He was able to step off, take a breath and lock himself in and if he doesn’t do it, I’m not sure that he makes it out of that inning or through five,” said catcher Nick Rickles. “His mental toughness is almost as important as his stuff and that helps him to stay in games as long as he does.

“Lundy really was on point with what was going on. A little bit of missed timing delivery wise will do that to a pitcher sometimes. You start missing your spots and you try to over-correct and then all of a sudden you find yourself sort of spiraling out. Dave coming out and telling him to slow down and make that adjustment was huge.”

The ability to adjust during the game, be efficient with his pitches, and throw strikes gives De Los Santos the ability to pitch deep into games and be an effective innings-eater.

The righty has three good pitches with a fastball, change-up and curve. The fastball generally hangs between 92 and 94 on the gun, but he will put a little extra on it at times and hit as high as 97. The change-up is in the low-to-mid 80s and fades away from right-handed hitters. The curve lags behind the other two pitches, but is still effective enough with a slow-bending movement. The curve is usually between 75 and 78 miles per hour.

His last start, which came against Toledo was a learning experience for the 6′ 3″, 170-pound righty when he struggled to get breaking pitches over the plate. De Los Santos, at the urging of the Phillies, has been working to reinvent his slider and curve which for a while had much the same movement. The result is working on changing grips on the pitches to get more out of each pitch and turn what was effectively one weapon into two very distinct weapons. Right now, the slider is ahead of the curve and is more effective for De Los Santos but there are bound to be nights when he’ll struggle with the new grips until he becomes comfortable with the changes.

Even without his usual command De Los Santos battled and by the end of the night he had allowed three runs in a game for the second time this season but had also managed to go seven innings for Lehigh Valley. He allowed seven hits but didn’t walk anybody while striking out six batters in the game lost by the IronPigs 4-2.

Pigs pitching coach Dave Lundquist speaks glowingly about the young pitcher’s poise on the mound and has been encouraged at how he takes the advice that the coaching staff has given him and incorporates it into his game.

There’s no denying that De Los Santos needs more work and probably shouldn’t get a call to the majors until September, but it’s also possible that he could use his poise to his advantage if given a chance earlier than the final month of the season. He’s mentally tough and not the type of pitcher to get rattled easily.

For now, the work and development continues for De Los Santos at the minor league level. His development is going well and once his comfort level with the changed grips gets even higher, odds are that he’ll be able to transition easily to the majors even if only at the back of the rotation to start. He profiles as a mid-level starter in the majors with the potential to pitch even a little higher in the rotation.

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