Getting to Know: Enyel De Los Santos: Will The Impressive Triple-A Numbers Translate To The Majors?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With Vincent Velasquez on the DL the Phillies will turn to Enyel De Los Santos to take the ball against the Mets today.  That’s an ideal situation for anyone to make their debut, especially for a pitcher who has been dominating at Triple-A.  He may not be the team’s top pitching prospect (that designation belongs to Sixto Sanchez), but there’s upside…  Or is there?  Sometimes numbers can be deceiving, so get a better understanding of De Los Santos and see what we can expect:

Rotoprofessor Rankings:
Phillies’ #9 Prospect

Throws – Right-Handed

Age – 22

2017 Statistics:
Triple-A – 95.1 IP, 1.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 8.21 K/9, 2.93 BB/9

What Others Said:
The right-hander is capable of using his plus fastball that sits around 94-95 mph and can touch as high as 97-98 mph to both miss bats and get weak contact on the ground, and improved command of the pitch has made it an even better weapon. His changeup is his best secondary pitch, one that flashes plus with good fade to it, but he doesn’t throw his curve as effectively.

Given that De los Santos shows glimpses of three at least Major League average pitches to go along with durability, he may be given every chance to start, with a ceiling of a No. 4 type starter. If the breaking ball doesn’t come, that fastball-changeup combination could be nasty coming out of the pen. – MLB.com

Thoughts:
The biggest concern prior to the season, and what limited his preseason grade, was the fear of being prone to home runs.  While it hasn’t been an issue during his time at Triple-A (0.94 HR/9), the risk remains as he continues to show a limited groundball rate:

  • 2017 – 44.2%
  • 2018 – 42.1%

He’s benefited from a lot of luck this season, including a .248 BABIP and 92.6% strand rate.  He has shown an improved SwStr% (10.8% to 11.8%), which is promising having made the move from Double-A to Triple-A, but that’s hardly enough considering it hasn’t led to an impressive strikeout rate.

Even if he can maintain his current 8.25ish K/9, with the risk of an increased home run rate and a few more walks (think 3.25-3.50), along with a regression in luck, the numbers could get ugly.  Maybe he makes a strong first impression, considering the matchup, but if he sticks around he’ll likely be exposed.  As the MLB.com scouting report noted, it’s possible De Los Santos ultimately is a better fit in the bullpen.  It’ll be interesting to see how he produces, but the risk outweighs the potential reward.

Current Grade – B
Upside Grade – B

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs

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