SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Enyel De Los Santos is part of a trend with any trade that Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller has made in the past few years; always look for the player at the lowest level that is coming back. With the White Sox it was SS Fernando Tatis, Jr., with the Red Sox it was LHP Logan Allen and with the Seattle Mariners it was De Los Santos.
In November of 2015 the Padres sent relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for High-A infielder Nelson Ward and RHP De Los Santos, who had only pitched for Seattle in their Complex League and in the Northwest League for a season at 19; but as with any Preller acquisition, he had a big upside.
Ward lasted one season with the Padres’ organization before being released in the spring; he is actually back with the Mariners. While De Los Santos, 21 has emerged as a legitimate starting pitcher candidate for the big league squad.
Last year with the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm, De Los Santos had a 4.35 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 68.1 innings against 24 walks. This year in Double-A he has shown some flashes of being very good and other times his big fastball has been a little too straight.
In 11 starts he has 49 strikeouts against 18 walks in 59 innings for a 4.88 ERA. For some reason, as Missions’ broadcaster Mike Saeger noted, De Los Santos has generally pitched well with the exception of a pair of starts against the Midland RockHounds where he gave up seven and eight earned runs. Overall, he has given up 32 earned runs on the year.
What makes De Los Santos special is his ability to throw, and maintain a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. His changeup has improved from last year, this season, according to Padres Director of Player Development San Geaney, will be to refine his curve ball.
“He needs to improve upon his command, said his manager Phillp Wellman. “He has velocity, but velocity is not that big a deal if you throw it right over the middle of the plate. He got hurt a few times the other day and I think he will eventually come around.”
“When you have a great arm like that sometimes they try to turn the dial up, when they should be turning the dial down. Right now, he’s only 21 and when he gets in trouble is when he tries to up the velocity too much because it straightens out, and that is when he gets whacked.”
“He’ll learn in due time, he’s just young and inexperienced at this level. It’s a big part of being down here to learn and get better.”
We caught up with Enyel, with the help of an interpreter, to find out what improvements he has made for this season.
MadFriars: What has worked well for you this year and what has not?
Enyel De Los Santos: The biggest thing I am working on is keeping my body in line when I throw because if I can do that things fall into place. When I don’t do that, I get in trouble.
How do you throw so hard?
Enyel De Los Santos: [laughs] A lot of work, good mechanics and God has blessed me.
What pitches do you throw?
Enyel De Los Santos: I have a fastball, a changeup and curve ball. The fastball is a four-seam and I throw a two-seamer sometimes.
In addition to building up your fastball command, the Padres have said they really like your changeup. How has the work been coming on your curve ball?
Enyel De Los Santos: I have really been focusing on my release point with my curve ball and that has helped me this year.
What is your biggest goal going into this year?
Enyel De Los Santos: If I can finish the season healthy, I should be strong. If that happens, it will be a good season,