PITTSBURGH — Enyel De Los Santos will travel to Washington later this month to represent the Phillies in the annual Futures Game. But before De Los Santos arrives at Nationals Park, the pitching prospect could first get a taste of the major leagues.
The Phillies will need an extra starting pitcher next week because they have a doubleheader scheduled for Monday with Vince Velasquez still on the disabled list after taking a line drive off his pitching arm. The team has not yet named a starting pitcher for Sunday's series finale against the Pirates, but that could be Mark Leiter Jr. if the reliever is not needed in the first two games of the series.
Zach Eflin and Aaron Nola will likely start Monday's doubleheader against the Mets. De Los Santos could then start Tuesday at Citi Field before Velasquez's expected return Wednesday. There are a lot of balls in the air, manager Gabe Kapler said.
"He's definitely a ball in the air," Kapler said. "It's reasonable to discuss him as a possibility."
De Los Santos, whom the Phillies acquired in the offseason from San Diego in exchange for Freddy Galvis, is 9-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 16 starts at triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies would first have to create a spot on the 40-man roster, but they could do that by transferring infielder Pedro Florimon (broken foot) to the 60-day disabled list.
The 22-year-old De Los Santos pitched six innings Thursday night for the IronPigs and has 87 strikeouts and 31 walks in 951/3 innings. He will be the organization's lone representative on July 15 at the Futures Game, an annual showcase for the game's top prospects two days before the All-Star Game.
"I've actually been talking to people a lot about him. One of the things that is encouraging is that even when he's not getting empty swings — swings and misses — his deception has been really strong," Kapler said. "Opposing hitters who faced De Los Santos will report — when we do our little back-channel homework to learn what people are seeing from our minor-league pitchers — that [they] aren't seeing the ball really well against him. So when you have command and control plus deception, I think that's a good recipe for success at the major-league level."
Righthander Jerad Eickhoff's path back to the Phillies became a bit more challenging this week when he felt numbness in two fingers again while throwing at the team's complex in Clearwater, Fla. The concerning part is that Eickhoff felt the tingling on both fastballs and breaking balls, after feeling it before exclusively when he threw breaking balls.
Kapler said Eickhoff is returning to Philadelphia to be examined. Eickhoff has yet to pitch this season after suffering a muscle injury near the end of spring training. A return this year seems uncertain.
"I don't know how concerning it is," Kapler said. "He's optimistic. I'm optimistic. The shoulder is sound. The elbow is sound. There's nothing that has come across that has been, 'Oh, no.' He's just feeling tingling in his fingers."