Right-handed reliever Ovispo De Los Santos turned some heads with strong results and a plus fastball…
De Los Santos refining breaking ball
Ovispo De Los Santos raised a few eyebrows in his first state-wide campaign with the rookie-level Surprise Rangers last summer. Though his numbers weren't overly dominant, he threw strikes and flashed a fastball that sat between 93-95 mph and topped at 97.
De Los Santos' powerful arm and strong performance––which included a 3.45 ERA in 28.2 innings––helped establish him as an intriguing relief prospect in a Rangers system loaded with talented arms.
The 22-year-old began his 2010 season in Extended Spring Training. As the hurler explains below, the Rangers wanted him to work on throwing his offspeed stuff more often while also commanding his fastball within the strike zone.
De Los Santos joined the Spokane Indians at the start of their season and was dominant in four outings. The right-hander tossed 5.1 scoreless frames, giving up two hits, walking two, and striking out nine. His electric fastball touched 100 mph during one game.
The Rangers quickly promoted the 6-foot-1, 180-pound reliever to Single-A Hickory, where he has continued to succeed. He has posted a 3.14 ERA in his first 14 appearances with the Crawdads. In 14.1 innings, he has surrendered only nine hits while walking five and fanning 15.
De Los Santos' most recent outing came on August 16 against the Charleston RiverDogs. He worked a shutout inning and recorded a pair of strikeouts. As usual, the reliever sat around 93-94 mph early in the inning and eventually worked his way up to the 97 mph fastball that ended the frame with a swinging strikeout.
As he begins to throw his slider more often, he is also having some more success with the pitch. De Los Santos threw the low-80s breaker four times in the 15-pitch inning and got two swinging strikes (including one strikeout, shown in the video below) and one called strike.
Lone Star Dugout spoke with the fireballing righty through the translation of Crawdads first baseman Michael Ortiz.
De Los Santos plays catch in Spring Training
De Los Santos warms up prior to his appearance against Charleston
Jason Cole: What are your thoughts on your season as a whole, from Arizona to Spokane and now to Hickory?
Ovispo De Los Santos: Before I even came to Spring Training, I was physically and mentally preparing myself down in the program in the Dominican Republic. Every day, I was giving it 100 percent and making sure that I was ready to come into Spring Training. I was taking it one step at a time.
And then finally, when I got to Spring Training, I said, ‘This is day one, let's give it 100 percent every day, do all my work as much as possible and to the best of my ability and perform.'
I felt like I did my job well in Spring Training. I didn't break camp, but I stayed with my plan––I never veered off my plan. I did the same thing in Extended Spring Training and kept working and giving it 100 percent every single day.
When they sent me to Spokane, I was happy that they gave me the opportunity. I felt that I did well in Spokane too. I did my job every day. Whether I was pitching or not, to me, I was pitching that day. I was ready to close out every game, every day. It didn't matter. I came in with the same mentality every day.
I feel like that helped me get this job here in Hickory. I've followed the same plan all year and I'm not going to let up until the last day of the season. I also thank God for helping me along the way. While I put in my effort, I feel that God is helping me.
Cole: Was there anything that you knew you had to work on to get out of Extended Spring Training?
De Los Santos: The first thing that they told me I needed to work on was my slider––my secondary pitches. Obviously I have a strong throwing arm, but they said that a lot of guys can throw hard. They wanted to see my secondary pitches.
They told me to learn to keep commanding the fastball––stay sharp with the fastball––but also to get better with the slider. I've been working on my slider all year, and it has been bringing me results. I haven't veered off my every day program or routine. I just thank God. I'm putting in all the effort that I can and letting God take care of the rest.
Cole: How nice was it to finally get to Spokane and pitch in front of fans?
De Los Santos: My first time pitching in Spokane, it was obviously a lot of fans and it was an exciting day for me, knowing that I was going to get into the game at some point.
But as soon as I entered the game, I knew that no matter what was around me or what the situation was, I needed to throw strikes. That's all I focused on. I tried to blur out everything else around me––to stay focused, have tunnel vision, and throw the ball straight to the catcher. With that mentality, it helped me in Spokane. The first outing went just like I felt I wanted it to.
Cole: Have you ever heard people compare your delivery and the effortless fastball to that of Neftali Feliz?
De Los Santos: A lot of people have compared me to Neftali Feliz as far as my mechanics. I worked a lot with Danny Clark, the pitching coordinator. He was working with me on maintaining an easy delivery––a nice, fluid delivery.
I have good arm speed, so no matter what pitch I want to throw, I want to maintain an easy rhythm in my mechanics. And then I just need to let everything else happen to throw strikes. It's working for me right now.
Cole: What do you want to improve upon in the last few weeks of the regular season here?
De Los Santos: Nothing changes for me. I know there are only a few games left, and I want to stick to my plan and try to finish as strong as I can. I don't want to veer from my plan. I want to give every day 100 percent until that last game––giving it every ounce of energy that I have left in the tank.
For more information on De Los Santos and the Hickory Crawdads, check out the Crawdads thread on our subscriber-only message board.
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