Over the past three months, Enyel De Los Santos has been on a roll. On Saturday night, he took it to the next level.
The Padres' No. 13 prospect fell five outs short of a no-hitter and pitched eight innings for the first time this season, allowing a run on one hit while striking out seven, as Double-A San Antonio defeated Tulsa, 3-1, at Nelson Wolff Stadium.
Gameday box score
"He looked sharp in his bullpen and he maintained that crispness throughout the game, especially playing a National League team, so he has to hit. It looked like it was more of a job than anything else," Missions pitching coach Jimmy Jones said.
On June 13, De Los Santos (9-4) sported a 5.00 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. In 10 outings since, the native of the Dominican Republic has a 2.19 ERA and 0.97 WHIP with 64 strikeouts over 65 2/3 innings.
"One of things with Enyel the past couple of months is that he's been able to repeat what he's doing as far as his intensity. Sometimes he'd get to the point where he wants to overthrow a little bit and tonight, from the first batter on, he seemed like he was in control of his emotions out there and he was making pitches," Jones observed.
Video: San Antonio's De Los Santos gets seventh K
De Los Santos' current run has seen him climb the Texas League leaderboard. The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder ranks second with 131 innings pitched and third with a 1.14 WHIP.
"I'm looking at a guy who's matured since April," Jones said. "When he's on the mound, he does what he needs to do to get guys out. He's been able to slow the game down a lot more than he was earlier this year."
De Los Santos was effective early and struck out Dodgers No. 18 prospect Drew Jackson to open a seven-pitch 1-2-3 first inning. He walked No. 5 prospect Yusniel Diaz leading off the second, but that was a hiccup in an otherwise dominant start.
Following the walk, De Los Santos retired 18 Drillers in a row until issuing a one-out walk to Blake Gailen in the eighth.
"His fastball command was probably the best it was all year," Jones said. "He was mixing his slider pretty well and his changeup is always pretty good. He's been working on his breaking ball and it looked better tonight. He had good arm action and he was beating a good hitting team."
Video: Drillers' Mejia breaks up Missions' no-hit bid
Erick Mejia ended the no-hit bid with a double on the next pitch and Gailen scored on a sacrifice fly by Johan Mieses to end De Los Santos' 14-inning scoreless streak. He needed two pitches to retire Garrett Kennedy and get through the eighth for the first time since May 26.
"When your emotions get in your way, they can change what you're doing and change your mechanics," Jones said. "He's been able to stay really focused and he's got an idea of what he wants to do and is going out there to do his job rather than letting his emotions take control of him."
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Dodgers No. 3 prospect Yadier Alvarez (0-1) started for the Drillers and allowed three runs on two hits and six walks while striking out three over five innings. MLB.com's No. 51 overall prospect has a 3.57 ERA in four starts since a promotion from Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga.