On Monday the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos, but can the Bucs figure him out and make him into a useful pitcher?
On Monday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos from the Philadelphia Phillies. De Los Santos was formerly one of the Phillies’ high-ranking top prospects, peaking at their 7th best prospect per MLB Pipeline.
Overall, he was a consensus top 10 prospect in their system. So far, he hasn’t pitched much in the Major Leagues, but he’s struggled when he has been given the chance. So can the Pittsburgh Pirates figure him out and help him reach his potential?
On the surface De Los Santos’s 2021 season has been poor at best. In 28 innings of work, he has a 6.75 ERA, 5.23 FIP, and 1.71 WHIP. He’s allowed walks at a high 10.2% rate, but home runs have been his biggest issue. He has a 2.25 HR/9, surrendering 7. None of his batted ball rates are excellent, and he gives up his fair share of hard contact.
But is there anything that points toward him being a better pitcher?
Well, for one, he has a strong 30.7% strikeout rate. His K/BB ratio sits at 3.0. His ERA estimators project a much better pitcher, having a 3.70 xFIP, 3.36 SIERA, and 3.49 DRA. His DRA is the same as former Pittsburgh Pirate Joe Musgrove, as well as standouts like Blake Treinen (3.45), Sonny Gray (3.52), and Diego Castillo (3.48). De Los Santos’s SIERA would be among the best like Brandon Woodruff and Yu Darvish.
One thing that will definitely work in the favor of De Los Santos is working with Jacob Stallings and the Pirate defense. He’s pitched 21.1 of his total innings with J.T. Realmuto behind the dish. While he has a strong +7.8 framing runs, he only has -2 DRS. In comparison, while Stallings has a similar +7.9 framing runs, he outpaces Realmuto in DRS by 24 (+22 for Stallings). Pirates defenders, in general, have out-fielded the Phillies in DRS, +17 to -56.
De Los Santos throws three pitches. A four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup. He throws relatively hard, averaging 94.9 MPH with his fastball. But none of his offerings have an outstanding amount of spin. He’s used his four-seam fastball almost exclusively this year with a 70.7% usage rate.
So can the Pittsburgh Pirates figure out De Los Santos? I think they can. When you look at how he’s pitched vs how his peripherals say he pitched, there’s plenty of evidence to make the case he’s gotten unlucky and that a good defense is all he needs.