TAMPA FL- MARCH 2: George M. Steinbrenner Field during the game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees on March 2, 2016 during the Spring Training Game at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Meet Dietrich Enns, a 19th-round pick out of Central Michigan in 2012. He’s 25 years old, and he won’t wow you with a single one of his tools. He simply spots his 91 MPH fastball on an absolute pinpoint, and simply dominates at every single level of the minors.
And no, I’m not exaggerating.
He scuffled after a promotion to High-A Tampa in 2013 before completely righting the ship there the next season to the tune of a 1.42 ERA in 13 appearances out of the bullpen. Then, unfortunately, he was felled by Tommy John Surgery. And it didn’t knock him off his game one bit. In 10 starts post-surgery in 2015 at Tampa, he held a 0.61 ERA.
Those are video game numbers.
While Enns will never be the favorite of the same scouts who watch Anderson Espinoza‘s million-dollar hook, I’ve heard some Mark Buehrle comparisons thrown around. And, uh, is that supposed to be an insult? If Enns is Mark Buehrle, that’s someone I unequivocally want in my rotation.
You mean the five time All-Star? The man who never threw under 200 innings in a full big league season until his final one (198.2 innings, so very close)? The man who carved through the heart of the Steroid Era with a devious curveball and a speed-changing arsenal? It took Buerhle an awful long time to fall off at all. If Enns is even half of Buehrle, he deserves a chance.
And based on his minor league numbers, there’s simply no reason to doubt him so far. No legitimate reason, that is.
As Yankee fans, we’ve learned to live with disappointment from our starting pitching prospects. It’s in our DNA. And just because we’ve figured out how to live with it doesn’t mean we’re ever satisfied with the current state of affairs. We know the names. Christian Parker, Adrian Hernandez, Jeff Marquez, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy. And every day, we write Luis Severino’s name on that list lightly in pencil, then furiously etch it back out, nervous that our proclamation might stick.
Big arms. Devastating sliders. All flattened at the big league level.
The plane of the breakers just wasn’t quite the same when hitters were able to sit right on the fastball. The corner-feasting junkballs weren’t quite so potent after arm surgery, or general nervousness, or an undiagnosed lack of real talent. They come and they go, high expectations sent into the void.
Well, maybe the solution is a lack of expectations? What if a pitching prospect was able to rise through the ranks, putting up eye-popping numbers with great consistency, and yet somehow failing to set off the Chatter Alarms?
No one is talking about Dietrich Enns. And, without asking Mr. Enns myself, that must be how he likes it.
Because, for once, it feels like the Yankees are the smart ones. The team that out-scouted the competition and nabbed a mid-rounder who doesn’t quite know how to lose. It’s rare these days. I’m going to keep basking in it, and shouting from rooftops that Dietrich Enns deserves a big league shot. Hopefully, this September marks his first of many Pinstriped Falls.