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Article: Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects: #8 Blayne Enlow

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 08:45 PM

Trouble with the curve: An old baseball phrase as trite and cliché as the Clint Eastwood movie titled after it. But as the game has evolved, that cliché has never lost its relevance. The curveball remains a mystical entity, difficult for pitchers to master and even more so for hitters to solve.

Blayne Enlow, still just 18 years old, has no trouble with the curve. His special ability to spin the baseball helps him hook a spot among our Top 10 Twins prospects fresh off his pro debut.Age: 18 (DOB: 3/21/99)
2017 Stats (Rookie): 20.1 IP, 1.33 ERA, 19/4 K/BB, 0.69 WHIP
ETA: 2021
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.

What's Next
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!

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#2 beckmt

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 09:25 PM

I am more than aggressive and hoping for 2020.Depending on his third pitch, move him up fast.

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#3 gunnarthor

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 09:36 PM

He's certainly exciting.

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#4 AZTwin

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 09:39 PM

I hope they challenge him and send to cedar rapids
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#5 TL

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 04:40 AM

While still concerning, that dip in velocity his senior year must be the reason he dropped out of the first round (where all bonuses were > $2MM). A plus curve, 94 MPH fastball, projectable frame and good control at 18 years old seems like a recipe for high first rounder. Twins may have gotten very lucky he dropped - and then executed the strategy perfectly to grab him in round 3 with an over-slot bonus.
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#6 Doctor Wu

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 07:15 AM

 

While still concerning, that dip in velocity his senior year must be the reason he dropped out of the first round (where all bonuses were > $2MM). A plus curve, 94 MPH fastball, projectable frame and good control at 18 years old seems like a recipe for high first rounder. Twins may have gotten very lucky he dropped - and then executed the strategy perfectly to grab him in round 3 with an over-slot bonus.

Yes, to all that. Enlow is definitely one of the more intriguing and exciting young pitchers in the system. Love the potential!

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#7 clutterheart

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:10 AM

Hoping he stays healthy.If he does, sky is the limit for this kid.

  

But looking at the list and who is left, it looks like 10 or 11 of the Twins top 20 prospects have not played above Low A.  

 

Is that normal?  


#8 Tomj14

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:28 AM

Really, really like his potential, what worries me is 8,9,10 are complete crap shots.

and you might say the same all the way though 13?

Edited by Tomj14, 12 February 2018 - 08:30 AM.

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#9 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:38 AM

 

Hoping he stays healthy.If he does, sky is the limit for this kid.

  

But looking at the list and who is left, it looks like 10 or 11 of the Twins top 20 prospects have not played above Low A.  

 

Is that normal?  

 

It's probably not "normal", though it's also probably not normal for a team to have 5 position players under 26 who already have 200+ MLB games under their belt too. It'd be interesting to see how a "typical" top 10 list looks in terms of where players are.

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#10 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:39 AM

 

Really, really like his potential, what worries me is 8,9,10 are complete crap shots.

and you might say the same all the way though 13?

 

That's why they're 8-13 probably. And, I'm sure that most team's prospects after 6-8 are crap shoots.

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#11 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 08:40 AM

Our individual rankings:

 

Seth (9), Nick (7), Cody (12), Tom (12). 


#12 Tibs

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 09:23 AM

Probably my favorite player in last year's draft class outside of Lewis

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I couldn't be a player because of bad eyesight, so I decided to be an umpire instead.

#13 FormerMinnasotan

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 10:19 AM

Any chance the Twins send Enlow to Cedar Rapids after he pitches in EST? I mean I remember Lewis Thorpe going straight from the GCL Twins to Ceder Rapids, could the Twins do the same for Enlow given Enlow’s potential?

#14 Parker Hageman

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 10:47 AM

I think y'all should watch Enlow in action before you make up your mind.

 

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"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#15 FormerMinnasotan

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:12 AM

I think y'all should watch Enlow in action before you make up your mind.

He looks great so far. Sounds like we might have got a steal.

#16 birdwatcher

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:26 AM

 

Really, really like his potential, what worries me is 8,9,10 are complete crap shots.

and you might say the same all the way though 13?

 

 

By the time a prospect is recognized as having the type of potential that Graterol, Badoo, and Enlow have, the chances of them being eventual contributors increases dramatically, maybe to as much as 40-50%. I don't know about you, but I think I'd label them as better than crap shots. Their odds are now probably better than those of players selected in the second half of the first round.

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#17 Tomj14

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:33 AM

 

By the time a prospect is recognized as having the type of potential that Graterol, Badoo, and Enlow have, the chances of them being eventual contributors increases dramatically, maybe to as much as 40-50%. I don't know about you, but I think I'd label them as better than crap shots. Their odds are now probably better than those of players selected in the second half of the first round.

I LOVE the potential in all three, but crap shoot, coin flip it is all about the same. I really hope I am wrong and all three are starters in MN for years, but I am just being realistic.

Edited by Tomj14, 12 February 2018 - 11:34 AM.


#18 Tomj14

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:37 AM

 

That's why they're 8-13 probably. And, I'm sure that most team's prospects after 6-8 are crap shoots.

Totally agree, it might be a sign of are young guys in the majors and a few of are other "prospects" failing off that leads to this. But there can be no denying we have a ton of talent in the low minors, now lets hope it returns us something in a trade or they make big impacts at Target Field in a few years.

(and not fizzle off and we get nothing out of them)

Edited by Tomj14, 12 February 2018 - 11:38 AM.


#19 highlander

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 11:43 AM

I'm guessing Bert be home Blyleven and Blayne will have a few conversations that I would love to be a fly on the wall at!

#20 birdwatcher

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Posted 12 February 2018 - 12:15 PM

 

I LOVE the potential in all three, but crap shoot, coin flip it is all about the same. I really hope I am wrong and all three are starters in MN for years, but I am just being realistic.

 

 

Yep, and I'll take a coin flip every day of the week for any IFA selection, any 3rd-rounder, and for sure, any later round pick like Badoo, Garver, Hildenberger Rogers, et al. 

Edited by birdwatcher, 12 February 2018 - 12:16 PM.

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