Continuing our tour through the 2015 MLB draft class' collegiate pitchers, we arrive at one whose stock has risen dramatically. Tyler Jay has been of interest to the White Sox from the start of the process, but if the current predictions hold, he'll be selected far before the eighth pick.
Who is Tyler Jay?
Jay hails from Lemont, Ill., where he was the 25th-ranked player in the class of 2012. Since joining the University of Illinois, Jay has been primarily featured out of the bullpen. In his first appearance as a freshman, he allowed a walkoff home run to Tennessee Tech. Since then, he has only allowed one other home run in his collegiate career that spans 70 appearances.
In 2015, he was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and named a first-team Louisville Slugger All-American, posting an almost 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (65 strikeouts to just six walks), 13 saves, a second-best 0.64 ERA, and the nation's best WHIP (0.62).
How does he rank?
What’s his game?
Despite his smallish frame (listed consistently at 6'1", inconsistently from 175 to 185 pounds), Jay has an impressive quick delivery that gives him some power. He works at 93 to 95 mph with his fastball, and on occasion he'll crank it up to 98. According to MLBpipeline.com, the fastball grades out as 65 on the 20-80 scale. Many scouts believe Jay features two additional pitches to go along with his fastball: a slider and curveball. The slider is a plus pitch grading out as a 60 and the curveball is 55. Typical bullpen arsenal for a left-handed pitcher, but he has been working on a changeup, which scouts grade as a 50.
His athleticism and good health impress scouts, who rave about Jay’s ability to repeat his delivery in either extended appearances (three-plus innings) or back-to-back games.
What does he look like?
Why would the White Sox draft him?
Jay is the best left-handed pitcher in this year’s class with some scouts believing could help a team this year out of the bullpen. Not that the White Sox have a desperate need today, but he very well could be an upgrade over Dan Jennings. Plus, Jay would be a better fit for the "Chris Sale path" to a spot in the starting rotation than say, Carlos Rodon. If patient, the White Sox can take advantage of Jay’s plus fastball and breaking pitches in 2016 and 2017, then think about moving him into a starter’s role in 2018. Or, he can replace Zach Duke when his contract expires and become a high-leverage option in the pen.
Why would the White Sox draft somebody else?
John Danks contract expires after the 2016 season. The front office very well could be looking at this year's No. 8 pick as a Danks replacement, and would need that pitcher to be starter-ready in 2017. There is a real possibility that the Sox could have established starters such as Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer or Missouri State’s Jon Harris available. Both Fulmer and Harris are considered to be safer picks as starters than Jay, whose development toward that end is less certain.