This is a series of evaluations that will be done this offseason on every player that closed the season on the 40-man roster for the Minnesota Twins throughout the winter until each player has been evaluated. The plan is to start with Mr. Belisle and move all the way through the pitchers, then to the catchers, infielders, outfielders and finally those listed as designated hitters on the club’s official roster. That means we’ll wrap it up with Kennys Vargas sometime before the season starts.

  • Name: Dietrich Enns
  • 2017 Role: Enns came over with Zack Littell in the Jaime Garcia trade, and he’s put up numbers everywhere he’s been. He made a couple starts and worked a little in relief after the trade, but overall threw just 61 innings across all levels last season. He’s got some work to do.
  • Expected 2018 Role: Truly hard to say. If he’s healthy, he’s an option at the back of the rotation or out of the bullpen — way more likely in the latter — but both of those spots are crowded.
  • MLB Stats: 6.75 ERA, 9.41 FIP in 4.0 innings; 4.5 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 2.00 WHIP, minus-0.1 fWAR, minus-0.1 bWAR.
  • MiLB Stats: Baseball Reference only does full-season stats, so here’s what he did between MiLB and MLB last season: 2.36 ERA in 61 innings, 58-15 K/BB ratio, .225/.278/.338 batting line against, 9 percent swinging strike rate, 43 percent groundball rate.
  • Contract Status: Not eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season at the earliest, and not a free agent until after 2023.

2017 Lowdown:

When the Twins acquired Enns and Littell in a deal with the New York Yankees for Garcia, it appeared to be a couple of lottery ticket-type arms for a decent back-end starter whom they literally laundered for one start. The end result was sending a semi-intriguing, yet far-away guy in Huascar Ynoa to the Braves in return for two starters much closer to the big leagues — and to that end, the payoff appears to be pretty good.

Garcia went on to do basically nothing for the Yankees — 37.1 innings which bWAR grades negatively and fWAR gives a mark of 0.4 — before declaring free agency, while the Twins have both Littell and Enns on their 40-man roster at present.

Littell is intriguing in his own right, but we’ll get to him another day. Enns from the chief standpoint that he’s left-handed, has put up numbers in the minor leagues and still has youth somewhat on his side. He only threw 61 innings last year, but in the 400-plus minor-league innings he’s thrown total, the numbers jump off the page.

Enns is a bit on the older side because he was drafted out of college at Central Michigan, but he hit the ground running in Low-A ball and hasn’t looked back. Across six seasons, he has a 1.88 ERA, more than a strikeout per inning and a WHIP of 1.09. With that said, he’s only thrown about 180 innings above High-A ball — so he’s been pretty old for every level he’s been at.

But he’s worked as a starter or reliever, has a decent repertoire and has put up good numbers. As a throw-in, take-a-chance-on-me type, teams have done much worse in trades.

Enns has battled some arm issues, and in fact, missed time at the end of the year with shoulder problems, and that’s a big reason why he’s yo-yo’d back down to the lower levels at times when he should have been pushed more aggressively. The Twins will have to throw him into the fire rather quickly — most likely out of the bullpen — and it’ll be interesting to see if his stuff plays up at all.

In a very, very small sampling with the Twins in 2017 — just four innings — he averaged 89.6 mph on his four-seam fastball and threw a lot of sliders and changeups. He was hit pretty hard and got zero swinging strikes on his slider/curve  — pitch classifications differ, but it sounds like it’s a curve — but it was under 100 pitches while he was battling shoulder issues.

Baseball America called Enns a “classic touch-and-feel left-hander” at the time of the trade, and suggested he has, at times, run it up to 94 mph with his fastball. Ultimately, they saw a left-handed specialist profile, which isn’t the worst thing. If it renders someone like Buddy Boshers obsolete or frees the Twins to move Taylor Rogers — or hell, simply gives the team another option late to counter left-handed hitters — that isn’t the worst thing.

The spin rates on Enns’ curveball weren’t particularly good in the big leagues — 2,057 RPM put him 399th among 444 pitchers who threw at least one last season — though it’s unclear if a shoulder issue would affect that. The prevailing wisdom in the game today is that spin rate is something a pitcher more or less does or does not have, though I’ll readily admit I don’t know how it shifts based on injuries.

Ultimately, Enns feels like a stab in the dark, but good left-handed relievers pitch forever.  

Grade: Incomplete. He’s an intriguing young lefty, but he’s only thrown 15.2 innings in the Twins organization, so it’s really unclear what he is at this point.

Listen to Brandon on Midwest Swing
subscribe on itunescold omaha podcast network