No. 9: Enyel De Los Santos from the Philadelphia Phillies, 9th prospect
Enyel De Los Santos is another player that was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners but was traded to the San Diego Padres in return for Joaquin Benoit. The 6’3″ right-hander is the highest-ranked prospect on this list, but again the Mariners are not just looking for the highest-ranked prospect like I mentioned previously.
If De Los Santos were a relief pitcher, it might change the narrative but that is not the case. The 24-year-old has almost pitched his entire minor league career as a starter beginning in 2015. He has made 12 appearances in the MLB now, seven times in 2018 and five times in 2019.
De Los Santos struggled as a young pitcher at the MLB level, but he has not made an appearance for the Phillies since 2019. There is no doubt that De Los Santos has potential. He has a strong arm that reaches 98mph, an above-average slider, and a strong but inconsistent changeup.
For me, De Los Santos’ pitch combination might suit him better for the bullpen, but it depends on how quickly he can adjust to being a relief pitcher. Some of the other prospects higher on my list for the Mariners have some pen experience, which De Los Santos does not have very much of. The one positive thing about De Los Santos is time spent in Triple-A and minimal MLB experience, which some of the other prospects do not have.
No. 10: Packy Naughton from the Los Angeles Angels, 12th prospect
Packy Naughton from the Angels is another exciting middle-tier prospect, but he has mostly been a starting pitcher. The former ninth-round pick in 2017 is the 12th ranked Angels prospect and has solid minor league numbers. The 6’2″ southpaw does not have alarming measurables, but his fastball movement and deception help him get batters out.
His fastball is anywhere from 87-94 mph and mixes in a slider and changeup. According to MLB.com, “he still has a chance at being a No. 5 type starter or an effective middle reliever.” Just based on all of this, he sounds like a less impressive Marco Gonzales. But that can be a good thing because many underestimated Gonzales’ future success in the MLB.
Based on his fastball velocity range, maybe he will be able to unleash his fastball more often if he pitches out of the pen and could average 92-93 mph instead of 90-91 mph. Left-handed relief pitchers are hard to find sometimes, and if Naughton is willing to adapt he could be really effective.
He is still 24-years-old and has limited time pitching out of the bullpen but he is effective at getting batters out. He reached Double-A in 2019 so he should be ready to pitch at the big league level in 2021 just like all of the Rule 5 Draft candidates I listed.
There is an impressive group of Rule 5 Draft pitchers and it will be interesting to see how Jerry Dipoto goes forward. The Mariners only have one spot left on the 40-man roster so Dipoto might be cautious in his draft strategy. If the Mariners are unable to get one of the top Rule 5 relief pitchers, it might not be worth sacrificing that extra spot on the 40-man. The Rule 5 Draft is right around the corner, so stay tuned for more updates.