For Enlow and Other Minor Leaguers, “No One Is Safe” At Trade Deadline
Image courtesy of Steve Buhr (photo of Blayne Enlow)That means that, for the first time in the professional baseball careers of virtually every Twins minor leaguer, there’s a chance that any one of them could find themselves packing their bags this week and moving on to another organization.
Fort Myers Miracle pitcher Blayne Enlow knows the score.
“No one is safe,” Enlow said on Sunday. “Not even Royce (Lewis), who is their number one prospect. If he’s not safe, no one’s safe. You can always get traded.”
Enlow, the 2017 third round draft choice of the Twins, is the organization’s 12th ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, making him just about as likely to be a name on the lips of GMs talking trades with Twins brass Derek Falvey and Thad Levine this week as any other Twins prospect.
Enlow said that he doesn’t feel like the trade possibilities are at the forefront of players’ minds, even as Lewin Diaz, their teammate with the Miracle until a promotion sent him up to Double-A Pensacola a few weeks ago, got the news Saturday night that he had been traded to the Marlins organization in return for reliever Sergio Romo, minor league arm Chris Vallimont and a player to be named later.
“It is what it is. You get a lot of relationships and you become close to a lot of guys, but at any moment you could be traded,” he said. “So, do you (let it) get into your head? No. It’s not like you’re always thinking about (getting) traded, but if it happens, you’ve got to accept it. What are you going to do? You can’t do nothing. The Twins have got a really, really good season going. They’re trying to chase that ring and they’re going to do whatever is necessary to get it.”
His manger in Fort Myers, Toby Gardenhire, agrees.
“I don’t think it’s an issue at all,” he said. “The players deal with it the way they deal with it. They don’t really honestly know whether you’re buyers or sellers.”
With a smile, Gardenhire added, “These guys haven’t been in pro ball long enough to really realize what that means. So, every year at the trade deadline, they all think they’re going to get traded and it doesn’t happen.
“This year’s a little bit different,” he conceded. “The Twins are trying to get guys this year, so we know, as a staff, there’s a chance that some of these guys might get traded. But I don’t really think it affects them as players. I think they just go out there and play the game.”
For a young player, getting traded can be a mixed bag.
On the one hand, you’re having to leave the teammates, coaches and development staff you’ve been working and playing with, perhaps, as with Diaz, for your entire professional career. On the other hand, as may also be the case with Diaz, the trade could open up a door to accelerate your opportunity to get to the big leagues. And in the end, that’s the ultimate goal of every minor leaguer.
The Diaz trade also brought out mixed emotions for Gardenhire, who managed the first baseman during the first half of the 2019 season.
“It’s tough because I really like that kid and he did a really good job. I think he’s got a very bright future,” he said. “But at the same time, I do know that the Twins got a pitcher that they desperately needed. We got some other guys in return. So, it’s a good thing for the organization.
“I think for Lewin it’s going to be a good thing, also. He’s got a chance to go over there, he might be in the big leagues by the end of the year. So, it’s tough because I really like the kid and I’m happy for him. But I know he’s got mixed feelings, too, because he liked the organization and he wanted to be around, too. So, it’s tough.
“I hope he goes over there and gets plenty of opportunities, which I’m sure he will. When you trade for somebody like that and you trade away a couple of guys, you want to see what you have. Hopefully, (the Marlins) will give him a shot up there and hopefully, he’ll be up there (to the big leagues) this year.”
Enlow is also a big fan of his former teammate.
“It don’t matter what’s coming, Lewin Diaz is unreal with the bat,” Enlow said. “He’s got incredible hand-eye coordination and he can just put it wherever he wants. Just ridiculous. I’ve seen him put balls, (that I thought) ‘how is that even hittable?’, four hundred feet out. He’s a really gifted hitter and he’s a really good dude. You never want to see one of your teammates go, but I want to see him succeed. Hopefully, it does bring him closer (to the big leagues).”
For his part, the 20-year-old Enlow has had the kind of season that is almost certainly being noticed by scouts and GMs across baseball.
After opening the season in Cedar Rapids and putting up a 4-3 record in eight starts for the Kernels, Enlow was promoted to Class High-A Fort Myers near the end of May. His first five starts in a Miracle uniform were quality starts.
The sixth start, though, was problematic.
Enlow took a comebacker off his throwing elbow in the first inning and came out of the game.
He returned to the mound for his next start seven days later, but lasted just three innings. He surrendered four earned runs in five innings in his following start and gave up five earned in his most recent start on Friday. He did work a full seven innings Friday, however, facing just the minimum nine batters in the final three innings.
Enlow dismissed the suggestion that maybe his elbow has had some residual effect on his mound performances this month.
“I think everything’s perfectly fine,” he said. “It hit the elbow, so it was going to hurt. But nothing terrible happened. Michael Helman (Miracle infielder) got hit in the forearm the other day and broke his bone, so I’m just blessed it wasn’t something too serious. I don’t think (the elbow) has affected me. It’s just like, it happens. It’s baseball. You’re going to get hit some days and you’re going to do good (other days). Just got to keep on keeping on.”
The right-hander has had some dramatic splits this season in one area. He’s notched a 2.08 ERA and .204 Batting Average Against when he faces right-handed hitters, while lefties have touched him for a .302 BAA and 5.91 ERA. Interestingly, a year ago, he had far more success against left-handers than righties.
Asked about the splits, Enlow had an explanation ready
“I didn’t really have a curve ball last year, so the righties felt more comfortable,” he explained. “And I had a really good change up last year which had the lefties uncomfortable at the plate. This year I’ve got my curve ball and now I’m just dominating the righties more so. But the lefties, I’ve been leaving a lot of stuff right down the middle and if you make a mistake, they’re going to punish you for it.”
Gardenhire, who also managed Enlow in Cedar Rapids in 2018, is in his pitcher’s corner and likes what he’s seen out of him since he joined the Miracle.
“He’s made big strides from last year with the way he goes about his business,” the manager said. “He’s still a kid. He’s only 20. So, learning how to be a professional pitcher, I think, has been the most important part for him and he’s definitely getting there. He’s making big strides, big improvements. He’s got good stuff. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to use that and how to be ready to use it all on a day to day basis is his biggest thing. So, like I said, big strides this year.”
Now, we all just have to sit back and see if Enlow’s still making those strides as a member of the Twins organization come August 1.
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