Minnesota Twins Tyler Jay: From First Round to Rule 5 exposed
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins Tyler Jay is in the middle of a fall from first-round selection to being exposed to the Rule 5 draft, what is left for Jay in Minnesota?
The Minnesota Twins made some decisions on several of their prospects this past week and whether or not to protect them from Rule 5 selection next month at the MLB Winter Meetings. One prospect that was being watched with the most curiosity was former first-round selection Tyler Jay. In the end, Jay was left off of the 40-man roster and has now completed what is an unfortunate fall from first round selection to being left available for every other MLB team to take.
Now there is no guarantee that someone will take Jay due to the rules in place that any team that selects him would have to keep him on their active 25-man roster for all of 2019. At the same time, if that were to happen that may be a further indictment on the lack of faith teams have in Jay’s development to this point in his career. To be fair, he hasn’t been dealt the best series of events either.
In 2015, the Illinois closer was drafted by the Twins. While many thought the Twins were hopeful to fast track Jay to the majors, the Twins continued to hold the stance that they were going to try to develop Jay into a starter. Jay pitched well as a starter until arriving at Double-A in 2016 where from there on out the transition back to the bullpen began.
The start of 2017 came with 6.0 strong innings as a reliever for Fort Myers back in High Single-A until after a brief appearance back in Double-A the Twins shut him down with what would be treated as thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms. After making his way back for the Arizona Fall League it seemed that Jay’s progression was headed in the right direction, but that didn’t fully continue into 2018.
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The positive for 2018 was that Jay was able to throw a full season’s worth of reliever work as he logged 59.2 innings. The concern is that Jay hasn’t seemed to be able to fully adjust to the competition level at Double-A. He carried a 4.22 ERA this season and his K-rate has dropped significantly whether that is due to competition or injury. In 2016, Jay had a 23.6% K-rate at Fort Myers and saw that drop to 18.2% at Double-A.
It is hard to know what Jay’s future will be with the Twins. It always seemed that he would be able to help the Twins bullpen out at some point but the Twins front office clearly feels that either he won’t be selected in the Rule 5 draft or they can live life without him. Which doesn’t bode well for the Twins when they passed up the like of Andrew Benintendi, Ian Happ, among others to select Jay.
There is always a chance that Jay just needs to get fully clear of his injury issues from 2017. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a player to need a year before things begin to click again for them. Then again, his low 90s fastball doesn’t fit the direction of present era relief pitchers and he may simply be destined for the Phil Hughes path post-thoracic outlet syndrome issues.
It certainly is a painful blow to see Jay take this trajectory for the Twins franchise and his personal career. The Winter Meetings will continue to bring us some clarity to what the future will hold for Jay.