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.