Look at this career stat line:
1.92 ERA. 1.09 WHIP. A .197 batting average against. A stunning 310 strikeouts to just 114 walks over 90 appearances spanning 291.1 innings over parts of five seasons.
You would think you are looking at one of baseball’s finest pitching prospects, but you may be surprised to find out that it’s quite the opposite.
Those are the career numbers of little known New York Yankees left-handed prospect Dietrich Enns. Sure, the true minor league buff may know the name, but this is a guy who didn’t even crack most people’s Yankees Top 25 prospect lists. In fact, Enns slipped right through the Rule 5 Draft this past season.
Enns is a bit older than your traditional prospect, now 25-years old, but he has made both his Double-A and Triple-A debuts look quite easy. The 6-foot-1, 210 pound lefty was drafted by the Yankees in the 19th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Central Michigan where he was a reliever. Aside from a minor hiccup in his first taste of High-A ball, Enns has never had a bad season.
His first three seasons saw him used as a swingman starter and reliever, but he did most of his work coming out of the bullpen. Enns made 63 appearances between 2012 and 2014, with nine of those appearances coming as a starter. He compiled a 2.45 ERA over that span, striking out 171 and walking 60 over 150.1 innings. Injury would strike just 13 appearances into 2014, and Enns would have Tommy John surgery.
2015 saw him fight his way back from injury. Taking the mound in June for the first time in over a year, Enns zipped through three starts in the Gulf Coast League, not allowing a run 11.1 innings. He jumped to High-A Tampa, and his days of being a reliever were seemingly behind him. Enns made nine starts, some spanning just four innings on his road to recovery, but went 1-1 with a 0.76 ERA and 0.87 WHIP, striking out 40 over 47.1 innings.
In 2016, Enns has been a man on a mission, nearly untouchable.
He has hopped back and forth between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes/Barre with ease. Enns made his Double-A debut on April 11th. He didn’t allow a run to score that night, nor would he for the rest of April. He started the season going 3-0 over four April starts, not allowing a run to cross over 23.2 innings — which set the Trenton Thunder record in the process — while striking out 25. He would earn Eastern league Player of the Month honors.
Enns hit a rough patch and lost two consecutive games to start off May, but he earned a two game promotion to Triple-A. He went 12 innings, striking out 10 and walking four while allowing only two earned runs to cross. He would go back down to Trenton and pitch well before returning to the RailRiders this weekend to fill in for Chad Green who is now in San Diego with the big league club.
It was more of the same from Enns Friday night back on the hill for SWB. He went 6.2 innings, allowing just four hits, no runs while striking out five and walking none. He landed 65 of his 100 pitches for strikes while inducing five groundouts and allowing just two outs through the air. He’s now 9-3 between two levels this season, with a 1.73 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 88.2 innings.
Enns has a four-pitch arsenal, highlighted by a fastball that usually hits in the high-80s or low-90s. He seems to have solid command of his changeup, using it as a successful out pitch and mixes in a slider which, like the change, works in the mid to low-80s. He as an adequate curveball as well. His issues have always been surrounding his high walk rates, which has been less of an issues this season than in the past, as he walked two or less in eight straight outings. He also seems to be working more ground balls of late, which is always helpful.
The Yankees rotation is both a combination of injury-laden and aging hurlers. While the back of the bullpen is as solid as they come, the middle has been a revolving door for quite some time. Should Enns sustain his success, and keep runners from scoring, the Yankees would be hard pressed to not give the 25-year old lefty his big league debut. While not a dominant or overpowering pitcher, Enns seems to be of use in middle relief that could even provide a spot start down the road.