(Courtesy of MiLB.com)
His name makes him sound like a James Bond villain hellbent on world domination, but in reality Dietrich Enns is actually a potential hidden gem from the 2012 Yankee draft class. He was drafted in the 19th round out of Central Michigan University and has been absolutely tearing it up this season in Low-A Charleston. With the 2013 draft starting tonight, it seems like the perfect time to catch people up on Enns, who some might have missed from last year. In an organization known for its ability to find and develop solid relief pitching, Enns is already making a case to be put on the radar.
Enns, 22, is a left-handed pitcher of average build (6'1"/195) with a 3-pitch mix. He throws a low-90s fastball, a real good changeup, and a curveball. As a college pitcher, he has a reputation for mixing pitches and changing speeds well and he's worked almost exclusively as a reliever from his college career to present day. He had success out of the 'pen at CMU, in the Cape Cod League, and now in the lower levels of A-ball with the Charleston Riverdogs. In 35.1 IP this season, Enns owns a sterling 0.76/1.19 ERA/FIP split with 58 strikeouts (14.77 K/9, 42.0% K rate).
What sets Enns apart from most lefty relievers, and what makes him an intriguing prospect, is his ability to pitch multiple innings and not get funneled into the LOOGY category that swallows up so many southpaws in today's baseball world. His 35.1 IP this season have come in just 16 appearances for Charleston. Only twice has he thrown just 1 inning and 5 of his appearances have been at least 3.0, including the last 3. Whether he eventually settles into a matchup role remains to be seen, but his ability to work both righties and lefties effectively right now and his ability to pitch multiple innings makes him a very rare type of middle relief option.
There is still room for improvement in Enns' game as well. His BB rates have been above 3.00 in both of his short professional seasons, this year's currently sits at 3.31 BB/9, so his command can be sharpened up some. He'll probably also have to further develop his curveball if he hopes to keep it as an effective pitch at the higher levels and continue to show that he can consistently locate down in the zone. He hasn't given up a HR yet as a pro, so that already appears to be going well. Adding a little velocity probably wouldn't hurt either, but lefties have a much easier time getting by without that and Enns' early K rates suggest he's got plenty of stuff.
The Yankees are great at mining the middle and later rounds for relief pitching gold and the early returns on Dietrich Enns make him look like another example. He hasn't gotten the attention that guys from earlier rounds like Nick Goody and Corey Black have, at least not yet. If he continues to mow down hitters and gets a mid-season promotion to Tampa, that might start to change.