The San Antonio Missions have 14 games left in the regular season, and after winning their division in the first half, they are trying to finish the second half strong, as their 30-26 record has them at the top of the Texas League South Division standings again. With the high profile promotion of Fernando Tatis Jr. this week, Luis Urías back from a two week DL stint, and a trio of reinforcements up from High-A Lake Elsinore to bolster the rotation, it might be easy to overlook Enyel De Los Santos, who has been a stalwart for San Antonio in 2017.
Signed for $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic by the Seattle Mariners, he was acquired in the Joaquín Benoit trade in 2015. The 6’3″ righty has quickly ascended through the Padres farm system, going from Single-A to High-A in 2016, and spending all of this season in Double-A. As a 21-year-old, he’s still considerably younger than the average player in the Texas League (three years younger, according to Baseball-Reference), so though his numbers may not match that of some of the more highly-ranked prospects, keep in mind that he’s performing in Double-A at the same age as some of the college pitchers who were drafted last June.
Speaking of those numbers, they don’t seem particularly dominant, especially for a league like the Texas League that tends to favor pitchers. However, there’s a slight discrepancy in how he’s performed against one team, compared to the other six in the league.
For whatever reason, he’s had a hard time with the Midland RockHounds, the Oakland A’s affiliate. While he’s striking out batters at roughly the same rate, he’s walking more than twice as many per outing when he faces them, and is letting way more of those hitters cross the plate. Take away those seven starts, and those numbers look much more appealing. He’s improved in his last three starts against Midland, allowing a combined five runs in 18.2 innings with a 17:6 K:BB ratio (which just goes to show you just how rough those first four starts were).
It’s not like the RockHounds are stacked with talent – the team is below .500 on the season (63-64) and doesn’t have that many big offensive prospects outside of second baseman Max Schrock (ranked no.18 in the A’s system by MLB.com) and outfielders J.P. Sportman and B.J. Boyd (both unranked). His bad outings have come both at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio as well as Security Bank Ballpark in Midland, so even those splits don’t make much sense.
One thing that we can see is that when his control goes, he is prone to some big innings. It’s something that he seems to have rectified as of recently, as he’s averaged seven strikeouts and two walks in his last three outings, posting a 1.29 ERA during that small sample.
With a plus fastball that can touch 97 MPH with movement, and breaking pitches that he seems to be using with more success this year, he’s a prospect on the rise in a system that is full of powerful arms. Despite the recent promotions of starting pitchers from Lake Elsinore, only Joey Lucchesi has been able to produce consistently for the Missions, as both Cal Quantrill and Eric Lauer are experiencing dips in their K/9 rate, and Jacob Nix is currently sporting a 9.18 ERA. Of the six-man rotation currently operating in San Antonio, Nix is the youngest, but De Los Santos is just 15 days older than him.
While he may have the ceiling of a mid-to-back-end of the rotation starter, he’s off to an impressive (if not under the radar) start to his career with the Padres organization. As interesting as he is, it’s another feather in the cap for general manager A.J. Preller, who’s team has shown an uncanny ability to find players in the low minors that have shown promise.
The question now is how many of those prospects can translate their success to the majors.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 24, 2017