INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Stepping to the mound in the ninth inning in a combined no hitter, wanting to maintain that so badly for the hurlers prior, is an extremely pressure-packed situation.
This is just the scenario that Yerry De Los Santos found himself in on April 13 in St Paul with all eyes on him. Eleven pitches, seven strikes, and a pair of strikeouts later, the 24-year-old slammed the door shut in dominating form.
In five appearances in 2022, De Los Santos has continued exactly that form for Indianapolis and is now moved into one of the highest-leverage reliever slots for the squad. This is a situation that the right-handler relishes.
“I like the pressure,” De Los Santos said. “Those situations are what I know…In the tense situations, I just like to pitch. I just try to be me. I know what I have to do, so I go do what I need to do.”
Indianapolis manager Miguel Perez glows about De Los Santos and the mentality that he takes to the bump toward the end of close games. He has the perfect makeup for that role.
“De Los Santos is a guy you want to have in pressure situations for sure,” Perez said. “He is a guy who is going to step on the mound and he is just going to be the same guy. He is not going to be paying attention to what is going on. Even if that big building is breaking apart behind him, he’s going to be steady. He highly concentrates and focuses on every pitch.”
In his six innings, De Los Santos has allowed just one lowly base runner to reach. While that runner crossed the plate and cost De Los Santos an earned run, it could have easily been scored an error on shortstop Oneil Cruz, who was fielding the ball to his backhand side. Regardless, De Los Santos has tried to keep his approach very simple to begin the campaign.
“I feel very good,” De Los Santos said. “I just try to attack the hitter.”
Working with a mid 90s fastball that has late two-seam life, De Los Santos has overwhelmed hitters early. He also has shown a strong slider that works to keep hitters off balance.
“[The fastball] feels really good,” De Los Santos said. “I am confident. I believe in my pitches. I believe in my skills.”
The path has not always been paved for De Los Santos. He had Tommy John surgery in 2017. He missed some time in 2021 with injury.
However, he is fully healthy and feeling great to start 2022. His stuff has followed and been dominant. Combine these two factors, and De Los Santos is on the doorstep of accomplishing his dream and entering those leverage situations at PNC Park.
“I am really excited [for a potential call up], but now I just try to enjoy my process,” De Los Santos said. “I have passed a lot of pain, and now I feel good. I will just see what happens in the future.”
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.