The Twins have made Tyler Jay, their sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, a reliever. This was alarming at first because in no way should the sixth overall pick be a reliever. On the heels of selecting Aaron Hicks (2008), Alex Wimmers (2010), Levi Michael (2011) with first round picks and not watching them flourish, the decision on Jay looks troubling for a farm system that needs to produce.
Teams that wont make it rain on free agents have to be above average in scouting and development. This is an area where the Twins can't fail.
Before I wrote this, I called Brad Steil, the Twins director of minor leagues, this morning for an explanation. Moving Jay into the bullpen was based on several factors.
The one that jumped out at me:
Jay pitched 85 innings between the University of Illinois and Class A Fort Myers in 2015. He threw 83 innings between Fort Myers and Class AA Chattanooga last season. And 15 of his 18 appearances last season were as a starter. He was 5-5, 2.84 at Fort Myers when he was promoted to Chattanooga. The Twins tried to build him up but he was slowed by a couple injuries, including a pinched nerve in his neck at Chattanooga. He was placed on the DL on Aug. 1, where he spent the rest of the season. He was 0-0, 5.79 for the Lookouts over 14 innings.
Steil said Jay, who throws a fastball, slider, change and curve, was making progress as a starter. But they can't have him go from throwing 85 innings in a season to 150. The buildup would take time. He's coming off an injury. So he's a reliever going forward.
The faster track to the majors for the 23-year old Jay is to use him as a reliever. And fast track means he could be in the majors by the end of the season. Keep in mind that Jay only started three games in two years at Illinois.
He's been a reliever for most of the last four years, and hasn't pitched more than 85 innings in a season.
"We had a lot of discussions both internally and with Tyler about the situation and the best plan for him," Steil said, "I think he is comfortable in either role. Potentially, it's about how he could impact the major league team."
Here's something else to consider. Jay is lefthanded and can reach the mid-90's with his fastball. He can sink and cut his fastball. His slider will become his main secondary pitch, with less reliance on his change up and curve.
There's another lefthander in camp who is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and the process has been meticulously slow. His last outing, he touched 78 mph on the gun. There is no telling when he will be able to help the Twins. He's in the last year of his contract, making 2017 possibly his swan song.
It would appear that Tyler Jay could replace Glen Perkins as the lefthanded heat out of the bullpen for years to come.
Back to major league programming.
One press box wag at JetBlue is calling this Red Sox alumni day because the Twins are sending Justin Haley, Craig Breslow and Ryan Pressly to pitch today, all three have pitched at various levels of the Boston organization.
Joe Mauer is making his first road trip of spring - if coming across town counts.
My brackets are all busted.
This game is available on MLB Network today.
Drew Stubbs, CF
Danny Santana, 2B
Joe Mauer, DH
Robbie Grossman, LF
Chris Gimenez, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Tommy Field, RF
Ben Paulsen, 1B
Bengie Gonzalez, 3B
Justin Haley, RHP
Brock Holt, SS
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Josh Rutledge, 2B
Marco Hernandez, 3B
Steve Selsky, RF
Rusney Castillo, CF
Christian Vazquez, C
Drew Pomeranz, LHP