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Blayne Enlow is Entering a Make or Break Season


Twins Daily Contributor

Blayne Enlow was once considered one of the Twins’ top pitching prospects. Now, he is entering the most pivotal season of his professional career, where he needs to put himself back on the prospect map.

Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge

 

Minnesota drafted Blayne Enlow in the third round of the 2017 MLB Draft from high school in Louisiana. He received a $2 million signing bonus to coax him out of his commitment to Louisiana State University. After signing, the Twins assigned him to the GCL Twins and saw immediate results. In 20 1/3 innings, he allowed three earned runs with a 19-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 

The Twins were aggressive with Enlow in 2018 by sending him to Cedar Rapids, where he was almost three years younger than the average age of the competition. For the season, he only faced younger batters in 13 plate appearances. In 94 innings, he posted a 3.26 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP. He allowed a hit per inning, and his 6.8 K/9 was low, but there were other positives to work on as he climbed the organizational ladder. 

Enlow began the 2019 season back at Low-A, where he saw his strikeout rate improve to 9.6 K/9. In eight starts, he had a 4.57 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. Most of his struggles were tied to his home run rate jumping from 0.4 HR/9 to 0.9 HR/9. He continued to make improvements after being promoted to High-A. Across 69 1/3 innings, his ERA dropped to 3.38, and his H/9 dropped below 8.0 for the first time since rookie ball. Enlow was holding his own while being young for his level. 

Unfortunately, Enlow faced some challenges over the next two seasons. Like many players, he missed a critical year of development with no minor league season in 2020. Enlow worked to refine his delivery during the shutdown, and he started the 2021 season with something to prove. His strikeout rate jumped to 14.1 K/9 through his first three starts while limiting opponents to three earned runs. Shortly into the season, he threw a bullpen, and his velocity was down. Eventually, the organization discovered that he had a torn UCL and needed Tommy John surgery.   

Enlow missed the remainder of 2021 but returned to the mound in May 2022, 11 months after his surgery. Also, the Twins thought highly enough of Enlow to add him to the 40-man roster even though he’d be returning from injury. In 25 appearances (11 starts), he posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP and 9.9 K/9. He posted the highest H/9 and BB/9 of his career, but it can take time for a pitcher to return to his previous form following Tommy John.

Last season, Enlow pitched the entire year at Double-A, where he was still young for his level. He is likely to return to Double-A this season now that he is further removed from his procedure. 40-man roster spots are valuable, so Enlow needs to get closer to the player he was before surgery. The Twins will likely need pitching depth in 2023, and Enlow’s presence on the 40-man roster makes it more likely that he will make his big-league debut. If Enlow struggles, the Twins will need his roster spot for other players. 

Enlow’s 2023 season will be intriguing for fans to watch. He is part of the team’s pitching pipeline, but questions remain about his future. Can he regain his form as a top prospect? Or will he end the season in another organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.  

 


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Him and Canterino could be studs. Just gotta get the innings.

Sadly, see Enlow, at best, becoming a relief arm in the end. He has to advance to AAA.

I wish the Twins had sent Balazovic back to AA to work out his rotation kinks. I'm not sure where to be with his status. Should he also start at AA in 2023?

Two prospects, along with Canterino, that I doubt will contribute to the team in 2023. And they really don't have a lot of trade value, unless other teams wish to take a flyer on "what could be....."

 

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Seems like the favorite thing to repetitively say is "young for his level", like that ever matters in the scope of a career. The minors are full of long term players that will never make it and get old there. Young is 20 to 23 for the show. 24 -28/9 is prime time for most that make it. I guess it is a fall back for writing about someone, regardless if it really matters.

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17 hours ago, h2oface said:

Seems like the favorite thing to repetitively say is "young for his level", like that ever matters in the scope of a career. The minors are full of long term players that will never make it and get old there. Young is 20 to 23 for the show. 24 -28/9 is prime time for most that make it. I guess it is a fall back for writing about someone, regardless if it really matters.

Age does matter in player development. Mentioning it in a column isn’t just filler, as your sarcasm implies. Success against older players obviously helps to understand a player’s potential. Wouldn’t you prefer a 20 year old being successful against players three years older? If it is the opposite that player is a candidate for release. 

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