The last time the Twins had a left-handed pitcher among the game's top ten prospects at the position may have been when Francisco Liriano was still a prospect. But drafting high in the first round can do good things for a club's minor league system, and with the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft Minnesota took southpaw Tyler Jay.
Jay's debut with the Twins saw him pitch entirely out of the bullpen for the Fort Myers Miracle. After 60.1 innings as a Junior for the Fighting Illini, scouts graced him with a 65 grade for his fastball, curveball, and his command. Minnesota will attempt to develop him as a starter, as a lefty with two plus pitches and potential plus-plus command is difficult to find.
While some fans were worried the Twins reached on Tyler Jay at number six, worried that the organization may have blown a high draft pick on a reliever, he was a consensus Top 10 pick. In late May, when his collegiate performances were solidifying his potential among scouts the country over, he often appeared as a Top 3 pick.
On Jonathan Mayo's list of the best ten left-handed pitching prospects for 2016, Jay ranks behind the Dodgers' Julio Urias, the Rays' Blake Snell, the Mets' Steven Matz, and the Braves' Sean Newcomb. Urias looks like one of the best prospects in the game, much less the best left-handed pitcher, and should be joining Clayton Kershaw's rotation in the very near future. Snell was the 52nd overall pick in the 2011 draft by Tampa Bay, and is only just picking up steam as a prospect now that his command is coming together. Matz made six starts for that talented and young Mets rotation, but holds onto his rookie status for 2016 after being a consensus Top 100 prospect pre-2015. And then there's Newcomb, who was sometimes tied to the Twins heading into the 2014 draft behind being selected 15th overall and also being a consensus Top 100 prospect pre-2015.
Jay, the first 2015 draftee on the list, went No. 6 overall to the Twins. A reliever at Illinois, Jay has the repertoire and the command to be a starter, and that's how Minnesota plans to develop him. He could have at least four Major League average pitches with above-average control when all is said and done. The transition to starting might slow Jay's progress a bit, but it's also nice to know that if it doesn't work, he could have an impact in the bullpen in a hurry.
Unlike Berrios, whose prospect status has been legitimized through performance, Jay is still on his Prospect Starter Pack - and that means his status is based almost entirely off of his draft position. Because he's never put in time as a starter, as he takes the time to develop his secondary pitches and on stretching himself out we may see his numbers have a bit of an initial dip. But considering where he's starting from, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Twins move Jay along quickly whether he settles in as a starter or whether he ends up being a brilliant bullpen option.