Tuesday, January 12, 2016

All those college relievers

Seeing Tyler Jay in the No. 5 slot in Baseball America's Twins Top 10 prospect list reminds me, again, of the organization's recent tendency to draft college relief pitchers.

Jay, a left-handed pitcher, was the closer for Illinois last year before the Twins took him with the sixth overall pick in June. There was some speculation (including here) that he might be fast-tracked to the major for a September relief role, but he spluttered early in high A ball and that notion was pretty quickly abandoned.

The Twins expect to have him start this year, and that was the likely plan even if the fast-track notion had come to fruition.

I hesitate to list all the college relief pitchers the Twins have taken in the first 10 rounds the last few years, because there are so many of them I'm bound to forget some. Two of them are in the BA list, Jay and Nick Burdi. But there are also ... Mason Melotakis, J.T. Chargois, Luke Bard, Jake Reed, Michael Cederroth, Sam Clay, John Curtiss -- and Tyler Duffey.

Duffey, of course, popped into the Twins rotation in August and was their best starter down the stretch, but in college he shared closing duties with Chargois at Rice. When the Twins began their big splash into collegiate relievers with the intent to trying some of them as starters, I was a bit skeptical but noted that if they try five as starters and one makes it, the project was a success.

Five weeks does not a success make. But I'm optimistic about Duffey, with a caveat I'll expound upon tomorrow.

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