Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Feeling a draft: The Twins on Day One

Tyler Jay pitches for Illinois in the Big Ten tournament
last month in Target Field.

The Twins's selection of Tyler Jay with the sixth overall pick fits two recent patterns in their drafting style:

  • He's a pitcher from a Big Ten school (in the past decade they popped Matt Bashore and Aaron Slegers of Indiana and Alex Wimmers of Ohio State; Bashore is out of baseball, Wimmers is in Double A and Slegers in High A).
  • He was used in college primarily as a reliever but is viewed by the Twins as a potential starter.

Sixth overall is too high for a straight-up bullpen guy, but it appears that there was an industry consensus that Jay was the best lefty in the pool. Some mock drafts I saw had him going as high as third overall.

While Terry Ryan downplayed the notion during his appearance on the Twins game broadcast, there was a buzz about the possibility of Jay getting to the big club this year, a la Brandon Finnegan last season with Kansas City.

And Ryan did say that he expects to keep Jay in the bullpen this year in the minors and begin the process of making him a starter next year, This would fit the hurry-him-to-the-majors theory. And watching Aaron Thompson and Brian Duensing struggle of late does prompt thoughts that the Twins need some southpaw help in the bullpen.

That kind of ambitious timeline can only work if Jay cooperates -- sign quickly and dominate from the get-go. And it will also require that the Twins remain in contention. There's no point in putting him on the 40-man roster for a late-season callup if the team's out of the running; that would start his option clock early and, perhaps, impede the long-term goal of making him a starter.

There's an obvious reason Jay was expected to be an early pick. He's a left-handed power pitcher, and there aren't a lot of those guys around. The perceived drawback is that he hasn't been a starter, but there's a plus to that as well: He hasn't been burdened with high pitch counts and lots of innings.


The Twins lost their second round pick by signing Ervin Santana, but they did get a "competitive balance lottery" pick at the end of the second round, 73rd overall. They used that pick on Kyle Cody, right handed pitcher from the University of Kentucky. Which is another school the Twins have dipped into for pitchers quite a bit. Cody's a big guy with velocity.

They've drafted a lot of power arms in recent years. They haven't -- yet -- seen fit to bring them up to the big club.

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