Blayne Enlow was once considered one of the twins’ top pitching prospects. She is now entering the most crucial season of her professional career, where she needs to put herself 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 out of high school in Louisiana. Lui received a $2 million signing bonus to get him to give up his commitment to Louisiana State University. Upon signing, the Twins assigned him to the GCL Twins and saw immediate results. In 20 1/3 innings, he allowed three earned runs on a 19 to 4 strikeout-walk ratio.
The Twins got aggressive with Enlow in 2018 by sending him to Cedar Rapids, where he was nearly three years younger than the average age in the competition. For the season, he faced only younger hitters in 13 plate appearances. In 94 innings, he posted a 3.26 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP. Him allowed one hit per innings and his 6.8 K/9 was low, but there were other positives to work with as he moved up the organizational ladder.
Enlow began the 2019 season 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 related to his home run rate going from 0.4 HR/9 to 0.9 HR/9. He continued to make improvements after being promoted to High-A. In 69 1/3 innings, his ERA fell to 3.38 and his H/9 fell below 8.0 for the first time as a rookie ball. Enlow was defending despite being young for his level.
Unfortunately, Enlow faced some challenges over the next couple of seasons. Like many players, he missed a critical year of development without a minor league season in 2020. Enlow worked to perfect his delivery during the shutout and started the 2021 season with something to prove. His strikeout rate jumped to 14.1 K/9 over his first three starts, limiting opponents to three earned runs. Shortly into the season, he threw a bullpen and his pace slowed. Eventually, the organization found out that he had a torn UCL and needed Tommy John surgery.
Enlow missed the rest of 2021 but returned to the mound in May 2022, 11 months after his surgery. Additionally, the Twins thought highly enough of Enlow to add him to the 40-man roster even though he would return from injury. In 25 starts (11 starts), he posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP and 9.9 K/9. He has posted the highest H/9 and BB/9 of his career, but it can take a while for a pitcher to return to his previous form after Tommy John.
Last season, Enlow pitched the entire year in Double-A, where he was still young for his level. He’s likely to return to Double-A this season now that he’s further removed from her procedure. The 40-man roster spots are at a premium, so Enlow needs to get close to the player he was before the surgery. The Twins will likely need pitching depth in 2023, and Enlow’s presence on the 40-man roster makes his league debut more likely. If Enlow struggles, the Twins will need him on the roster for other players.
Enlow’s 2023 season will be intriguing for fans to watch. He’s part of the team’s pitch pipeline, but questions remain about his future. Will he be able to regain his top prospect form? Or will he finish the season in another organization? He leaves a comment and the discussion begins.
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