Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow
Age: 18 (DOB: 3/21/99)
2017 Stats (Rookie): 20.1 IP, 1.33 ERA, 19/4 K/BB, 0.69 WHIP
2017 Ranking: NR
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR | MLB: NR | ESPN: NR | BP: NR
What's To Like
"He can spin the ball, which is hard to teach."
Those were the words of Twins scouting director Sean Johnson when first explaining Minnesota's third-round selection in the 2017 draft. And it's very true. Last summer, Tom Verducci penned a big feature for Sports Illustrated on the resurgence of the curveball as a premier pitch in MLB. "Organizations have learned," he wrote, "that if someone does not show an aptitude to spin the baseball as an amateur, it’s foolish to expect him to acquire the skill."
Enlow is ahead of all peers in this regard. Prior to last June's draft, MLB.com's Jim Callis dubbed his curveball the best in the entire class, which included plenty of vaunted college arms. The Twins followed the Louisiana prep closely all spring, and basically framed their entire draft strategy around landing him. (Maybe they wanted Royce Lewis no matter what, but signing him below-slot at No. 1 gave them the flexibility to lure Enlow away from an LSU commitment with a gaudy $2 million bonus.)
It is, of course, still very early, but so far Minnesota's scouting department looks to have hit the bullseye and added one hell of a pitcher.
Enlow made only six appearances in the Gulf Coast League after signing, totaling just 20 1/3 innings, but his performance was almost spotless. The projectible 6-foot-4, 180 lb right-hander turned in a 1.33 ERA with 19 strikeouts and four walks, allowing just 10 hits and one home run with a 55% grounder rate. As a high school senior at St. Amant, he had fanned 101 over 76 frames with a 0.92 ERA.
His signature curve is already making waves in the pros. Baseball America recently ranked it as the best in the Twins system. GCL hitters were overmatched and couldn't do much with it. The pitch breaks so hard that some see it as more of a slurve, and TD community member Bob Sacamento went so far as to say in September that "[Enlow] showed me the grip and it's a slider."
Regardless of what you want to call it, it's a phenomenal pitch, and Enlow's ability to combine it with a power fastball with stellar command at the age of 18 is beyond promising.
What's Left to Work On
You might be asking yourself: If this kid's so good, why did he slip to the third round of the draft? Well, that's a little misleading, because he signed for late-first-round money. It is quite likely that other teams were aware of his arrangement with Minnesota.
But there were legitimate concerns cropping up around Enlow that caused his draft stock to drop a bit. Namely: a dip in fastball velocity, from 94 MPH during his junior year to the upper-80s early in his senior season. That can be a very troubling sign, but the velo rebounded as the draft approached (likely alleviating any reservations for the Twins), and he was reportedly back to touching 94 in the GCL.
Of course, the problem with dominating so thoroughly on the strength of two pitches is that he's never had much need to work on a third. Enlow's changeup lags behind his heater and breaking ball, but that's not rare for a pitcher at this stage, and most believe he can develop his third offering into something at least usable.
That question mark, and all others that generally apply to a teenage pitcher who hasn't yet played above rookie ball, keep Enlow's prospect standing in check... for now.
The temporary decline in arm strength late in his prep career might help explain why the Twins took it quite easy on Enlow during his first foray into the pro ranks, using him almost exclusively in relief and always with big breaks in between outings. They'll probably continue to exercise caution in the next couple of years, but as he fills out, there's little reason to doubt his ability to stay healthy and maintain velo.
Turning 19 next month, Enlow will likely start the season at the next step of rookie ball in Elizabethton, but it would surprise no one if he surfaced quickly in Cedar Rapids. Any level of success there, as a teenager, would put him on track to beat out our (fairly aggressive) estimate of an MLB arrival in 2021.
Catch Up on the Rest of Twins Daily's Top Prospect Countdown:
TD Top Prospects: 16-20
TD Top Prospects: 11-15
TD Top Prospect: #10 Akil Baddoo, OF
TD Top Prospects: #9 Brusdar Graterol, RHP
TD Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow, RHP
TD Top Prospects: #7 - Coming Tuesday!
- Cory Engelhardt, h2oface, gagu and 1 other like this