#6: Tyler Jay, LHP, Chattanooga
Before the season began, the Minnesota Twins announced that Jay would be moved to the bullpen full time to manage his work load, hoping to see the dominant pitcher, who was a legit top draft pick as a reliever-only with Illinois before moving to the rotation his junior season and being so dominant that the Twins selected him 6th overall in the 2015 draft, return with the shorter stints and lesser workload.
When he’s at his best, his top two pitches are a fastball that sits around 92-94 and can bump against triple digits in short bursts. His other elite pitch is a slider that’s a plus pitch and plays up to a plus-plus pitch at its best, with good velocity and sharp break.
Jay is certainly athletic enough, being recruited for college in football and baseball out of high school, but the attempt to make him a full time starter has not gone well, and has now ended with Jay needing a procedure for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome after just two innings with AA this season.
When he has pitched, Jay has totaled a 3.46 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, a 8.5% walk rate, and a 23.1% strikeout rate. That should tick up even more in the bullpen, if he can return healthy from TOS surgery, which has not been a 100% success surgery by any means to this point.
#5: Travis Blankenhorn, IF, Cedar Rapids
Considered to have a high ceiling coming out of high school in Pennsylvania, Blankenhorn certainly tapped into that ceiling in 2016, generating tremendous power with Elizabethton before getting a promotion to Cedar Rapids. He added some loft to his swing, working to create more line drives in his contact, and the result was excellent.
I bumped him up heavily due to this and his ability to keep his strikeouts somewhat in check with the swing change. While he was on 7 lists, all but 2 had him as one of the final three players of the top 10. I was by far the high man on Blankenhorn.
His increased line drives have remained, but the change in his swing has not been able to generate the consistent contact that he was getting last season, as he’s hit .248/.360/.434, showing a much-improved batting eye, lowering his strikeout rate by 2% and increasing his walk rate to over 11%.
On the season, Blankenhorn has 14 doubles, 8 triples, and 8 home runs, with 7 stolen bases. He may not end up in my top 10 at the end of this season, but that’s more an effect of other players moving ahead of Blankenhorn and drafting some high-level players than Blankenhorn really dropping much in my view, as this season is really right on what was hoped for out of him this season.