One of the Pittsburgh Pirates noteworthy relief prospects is Yerry De Los Santos, who is Rule 5 eligible, so will they protect him from possible selection?
One of the Pittsburgh Pirates more noteworthy minor league relief pitchers is Yerry De Los Santos. The right-hander is ranked as the team’s 55th best prospect per FanGraphs. However, he’s also Rule 5 draft eligible this off-season. So is there enough of a case for him to be added to the 40-man roster?
De Los Santos started the year at Double-A Altoona. However, he’s been limited to just 17.2 innings due to a forearm strain. Though when he has pitched, he’s been solid. He’s only allowed just 4 earned runs while having a healthy 26.4% strikeout rate, and 8.3% walk rate. De Los Santos has allowed 2 long balls but has an outstanding 52.4% ground ball rate, and a line-drive rate of just 9.5%.
The right-hander appeared on prospect radars after an outstanding 2019 season at A-Ball Greensboro. He tossed 50 innings with a sub-2 ERA (1.44), 2.37 FIP, and 0.88 WHIP. De Los Santos struck out nearly 40% of all the batters he faced, posting a 38% strikeout rate. He wasn’t a strikeout-or-walk kind of pitcher either. He only walked 6.3% of batters. He also only had a .54 HR/9.
De Los Santos’ batted ball rates were just as good as his results. He had a ground ball rate well above 50% (55.4%) and a fantastic 19.8% line drive rate. He induced infield fly balls more often than his general flyball rate (24.8% to 36%). It’s no wonder he gave up just 3 home runs in 50 innings of work.
The 23-year-old uses two pitches to get outs. His four-seam fastball comes in the mid-90’s, averaging out in the 93-96 MPH range. However, he tops out at 98. Plus the spin he can put on it (2250 RPM) is about average). It currently is seen as a 55-grade offering, but FanGraphs projects it as a 60-grade pitch once it fully develops. His slider average-to-above average pitch. With 2400 RPM, it’s currently seen as a 50-grade pitch with 55-grade potential. His command can get a bit spotty at times, but overall, his fastball/slider combo is a solid mix. He can get a bunch of swings and misses and hasn’t allowed a ton of walks yet.
Now the Pirates left De Los Santos unprotected last year and were able to sneak him through. But now at Triple-A and still having solid results, he may be more of an attractive option. Even being ranked 55th is decent considering that FanGraphs gives the Pirates the second most ranked prospects and the second-best overall system per their rankings.
I think there’s also a chance the Pittsburgh Pirates put him on the 40-man roster to help the team’s bullpen depth in the Major Leagues. Right now, David Bednar and Chris Stratton might be the only relievers guaranteed an Opening Day roster spot in 2022.
The Pirates have the chance to try out some top prospects next year, hopefully De Los Santos is one of them. So at the very least even if they don’t protect him and he sneaks through the draft, I think he’s a guy that they give a look at early on into 2022.