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Three ranked prospects among 6 sent down

Pitchers Jorge, Thorpe, Littell optioned to Minors by Twins
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins made their first cuts of Spring Training before their game against the Red Sox on Wednesday, optioning Dietrich Enns and Felix Jorge to Triple-A Rochester, optioning Lewis Thorpe and Zack Littell to Double-A Chattanooga and reassigning catchers Brian Navarreto and Wynston Sawyer to Minor League camp.

The moves, which help Enns, Jorge, Thorpe and Littell get stretched out as starters at Minor League camp, leave the Twins with 53 players in camp, including 26 pitchers and five catchers. Minnesota is still expected to break camp with four starting pitchers, eight relievers and two catchers.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins made their first cuts of Spring Training before their game against the Red Sox on Wednesday, optioning Dietrich Enns and Felix Jorge to Triple-A Rochester, optioning Lewis Thorpe and Zack Littell to Double-A Chattanooga and reassigning catchers Brian Navarreto and Wynston Sawyer to Minor League camp.

The moves, which help Enns, Jorge, Thorpe and Littell get stretched out as starters at Minor League camp, leave the Twins with 53 players in camp, including 26 pitchers and five catchers. Minnesota is still expected to break camp with four starting pitchers, eight relievers and two catchers.

• Twins' Top 30 Prospects

Thorpe is the highest rated prospect of the group, as he's the club's No. 12 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. Littell is ranked 15th, Jorge is ranked 17th and Enns is not among the club's Top 30 prospects.

"They're guys who need to get out on the mound more to prepare for their seasons," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We're trying to get as many guys stretched out as possible as starters. Keeping them over here is mathematically impossible."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Enns, who came over to Minnesota along with Littell in the trade that sent Jaime Garcia to the Yankees at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, has Major League experience, posting a 6.75 ERA in two appearances (one start) with the Twins. The 26-year-old posted a combined 2.05 ERA in 57 innings in the Minors last year, but he gave up four runs in 3 2/3 innings this spring.

Jorge, 24, also made his debut last year, making two starts for the Twins, allowing nine runs in 7 2/3 innings. But he had a combined 3.68 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A last year and gave up one run over three innings this spring.

Thorpe, 22, remains an intriguing prospect who was on an impressive trajectory until missing the 2015 and '16 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But he returned last season to post a 2.93 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 83 innings between Class A Advanced Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga. He gave up three runs over 2 1/3 innings this spring and is opening the year at Double-A for the first time.

"He needs to go down and there build up his innings," Molitor said. "He's a guy I didn't know a lot about other than good reports and word of mouth."

Video: MIN@HOU: Littell K's Reed to lock down the save

Littell, 22, is coming off an impressive season that saw him go 19-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 27 appearances (25 starts) between Class A Advanced and Double-A last year. He was a candidate to open at Triple-A Rochester for the first time, but the Twins have a lot of depth there with fellow prospects Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Aaron Slegers expected to open at Triple-A. Littell fared well this spring, giving up one run in five innings, showing off his sinker that gets above-average ground-ball rates.

"I told him I was impressed by him this camp," Molitor said. "I complimented his work ethic and mound presence. Obviously, you know about a guy coming in but it was good to get eyes on him and build him up because I felt good about what he did here."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Felix Jorge, Zack Littell, Lewis Thorpe