But he is forcing the issue. De Los Santos is 3-0 with a 1.07 ERA in five starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He pitched six scoreless innings in tough conditions Friday against Rochester. He allowed three hits and five walks and struck out eight. He struck out 25 and walked six in 19 1/3 innings in his first four starts.
"He's pounded the strike zone with a well above-average fastball," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said Saturday. "His slider has continued to get better. He's had a good feel for a changeup since he's got here. He's been a pleasant, pleasant surprise, just from the standpoint that I didn't expect him to be maybe quite as polished, quite as calm and confident."
The Phillies acquired De Los Santos in December in the Freddy Galvis trade with San Diego. There have been times this season when Galvis could have helped the Phillies defensively -- Galvis' .595 OPS is below the Phillies' .679 OPS at shortstop -- but De Los Santos has enough talent to bring more consistency to the Phillies' rotation.
The Phillies' rotation got off to a good start, but it has posted a 7.13 ERA in the previous 10 games. The Phillies are 3-7 in that stretch.
"He's a good kid, but he's got some meanness on the mound," Jordan said about De Los Santos, who is the organization's No. 12 prospect. "He's been a really, really good performer. Honestly, he's been the best performer in that rotation all year."
So is De Los Santos getting close to entering the conversation to join the Phillies' rotation, if the need arises in the coming weeks and months? Remember, the Phillies would need to find a spot for him on the 40-man roster to make it happen.
"I don't know that we're getting ahead of ourselves," Jordan said. "I think he's making an argument on his own. Again, I think we all love what we saw in Spring Training. He's just really carried it on. He's been very good. He's got Major League weapons.
"He's answered a lot of questions. He's given us a lot of confidence in him. It's been very impressive. I don't think we can slice it up any other way than that."