The Twins are delighted that they drafted Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, given that the teenage shortstop is already one of the top prospects in baseball.
But by making Lewis their surprise pick and signing him for less than his slot value paid off for the Twins in another way, too. It paid off with Louisiana high school righthander Blayne Enlow.
Enlow was expensive, costing the Twins almost triple his $755,000 slot value after being chosen in the third round, but the $2 million bonus that it took to talk Enlow out of attending Louisiana State looks like money well spent.
“He’s a businesslike young man, a guy who takes preparation seriously,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. “Some guys, especially the high school players, aren’t ready to pitch when you draft them.
“This guy, he’s got projectable stuff, but he knows how to use it, too. You can see why LSU wanted him so much.”
The feeling was mutual. Enlow committed to the Tigers after his junior year, and it was clear that going far over slot would be required to change that. The Twins, in love with his mid-90s fastball and especially his curveball, found the money.
Enlow made a sensational pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League last year, recording a 1.33 ERA and allowing 10 hits in 20.1 innings. That earned the 19-year-old a ticket to low Class A Cedar Rapids this spring.
As one of the youngest players in the Midwest League, Enlow responded with a 3.26 ERA in 94 innings spread over 20 appearances (17 starts). He dealt with back and ankle injuries and struck out 6.8 batters per nine innings, a rate the Twins expect to rise as Enlow does.
“His best strikeout pitch is a curveball, and that can take some time to harness,” Radcliff said. “He’s still figuring out how to use it, but he’s really advanced with it for a 19-year-old.”
>> Triple-A Rochester catcher Juan Graterol was vacationing with family in Miami when the Twins tracked him down and added him to their September roster as the third catcher, after Mitch Garner suffered a concussion.
>> Low Class A Cedar Rapids manager Toby Gardenhire joined the Twins for a week in September, including a three-game series in Detroit, where he and his father, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, exchanged lineup cards at home plate before their Sept. 17 game.