On Saturday afternoon, news broke that the Twins and left-handed prospect Tyler Jay had come to an agreement for Jay to move from the starting rotation back to the bullpen.
The No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, the Twins had high hopes for Jay to become a front-of-the-rotation starter after spending his college career at Illinois almost exclusively as a reliever. Last year between Fort Myers and Chattanooga, Jay made 15 starts over 18 appearances, finishing the year with a 5-5 record and a 3.33 ERA with 77 strikeouts.
Now that he has moved back to the bullpen this somewhat dampens his potential fantasy impact, but at the same time it also likely shortens the time until he makes his Major League debut. The projected Twins bullpen entering this season isn’t going to set the world on fire, so it likely won’t take long for a spot to open up for Jay later this summer.
While his fantasy impact would have potentially been greater as a starter, he now provides some intrigue as a potential future closer. In three seasons at Illinois, Jay recorded 24 saves in 71 appearances averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. His K/9 rate dipped slightly over two seasons in the minors (8.74 K/9), but a move to the bullpen could allow him to boost his strikeout rate back up into the double digits.
J.T. Chargois has been the rookie pitcher for the Twins I’ve been most intrigued by coming out of the pen — I still think there’s a decent chance that he could end up being the closer at some point this year — but with this move to the pen, Jay definitely becomes the more interesting closer prospect. Keep an eye out on how Jay starts out the year in Chattanooga. If he gets off to a hot start, he could quickly jump up the ranks and be in Minneapolis in no time.