When the Minnesota Twins selected Tyler Jay sixth overall in 2015, there wasn’t much doubt about the left-hander’s talent. At 6 foot 1, 185 pounds, he doesn’t look like he’s going to overpower you. But don’t be fooled, he will.
Jay’s frame plus quirky delivery draws similarities to a left-handed Trevor Bauer, whose career was much maligned out of the gates due to his unique overall framework. Where Bauer wants his long toss to take place in the next city over no matter what, Tyler Jay just needs to stay healthy. Unfortunately that looks like a big “just needs.”
At the University of Illinois, Jay was the Illini’s dominant closer but was tried as a starting pitcher in pro ball after appearing exclusively as a reliever in his High-A debut.
Entering year two, he came in hot in the top 100 prospect lists. Appearing as high as number 60 for MLB.com. John Sickels rated him 124th. His transition to starter went very well before the injury bug bit the 22-year old.
He started 15 games last year (in 18 appearances) and posted a 3.33 ERA and 1.23 WHIP before a neck strain cost him the final month of the season. That’s all it took for the Twins organization to ease him back to the bullpen.
2017 saw another pair of ailments (biceps tendinitis and a shoulder impingement) eat into his baseball calendar, temporary delaying his highly anticipated debut...
...which would come in late May on the 25th vs. Montgomery. He faced four batters, walking two and allowing a home run. His next outing five days later was another inning, this time scoreless with two punch-outs. He then went back on the DL with more shoulder problems, eventually traced to thoracic outlet syndrome. Surgery was required and has ended his 2017 campaign.
Given the players that the Twins passed up to select Jay 6th-overall (including Andrew Benintendi, Ian Happ, and Kolby Allard), Jay’s injury is a serious blow. A bonus of nearly $4 million came with high expectations and while Jay’s potential is obvious, thoracic outlet syndrome is a very significant injury.