Twins returning lefty Jay to bullpen
No. 6 prospect earned Florida State League All-Star honors as starter
By Daren Smith / MiLB.com
The Twins are moving Tyler Jay, drafted sixth overall as a relief pitcher in 2015, back to the bullpen.
Jay -- Minnesota's sixth-ranked prospect -- earned Florida State League All-Star honors as a starter last season, going 5-5 with a 2.84 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 69 2/3 innings for Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He was promoted in July to Double-A Chattanooga, where he compiled a 5.79 ERA and nine strikeouts over 14 innings in five games, including two starts.
"Nothing is permanent in the prospect development process, but this is a collaborative decision to put Tyler in the best situation for success," Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff told MLB.com. "Each organization is striving to maximize the strengths and abilities of each of our players and this decision reflects that objective."
A 22-year-old left-hander, Jay was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year in 2015 after going 5-2 with a 1.08 ERA and a school-record 14 saves in 30 games for the University of Illinois. He also holds the Fighting Illini mark with 24 career saves.
Jay stayed in the bullpen after he was drafted and went 0-1 with one save and a 3.93 ERA in 19 relief appearances for Class A Cedar Rapids in 2015. Moved into the rotation last year, he was 4-2 with a 0.70 ERA in a six-start stretch for Fort Myers from May 4-June 8.
"Starting is really fun, but to be honest, it's hard to choose," Jay said on May 31 after recording a career-high 11 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings. "I've been lucky to experience the best of both worlds. The adrenaline rush you get as a closer is awesome, but when you're out there starting and get to work through so many different scenarios ... I'm falling in love with it more and more every day. I'm definitely getting used to it."
According to MLB.com, Jay is expected to begin the year with Chattanooga, where he missed the final month last season due to a strained neck.