Tyler Jay has thrown the baseball very well this spring. Ridiculously well. Well enough, he hopes, to hear his name called in this week’s MLB Draft.
Jay presents an interesting prospect to pro teams – a left-hander that can close out games on just a limited number of pitches. Add into the mix that he boasts an impressive number of pitches in his personal arsenal and Jay projects to go early on Monday night.
Here’s what you need to know about the midwestern southpaw:
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound hurler came into his junior season ranked No. 18 in the class by Perfect Game and was a Louisville Slugger second-team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball.
The expectations were high for Jay and he not only met them, he exceeded them. In 29 appearances and 60.1 innings, Jay gave up just 30 hits and four earned runs while striking out 70. Opponents hit just .151 against him and he boasted a 0.60 ERA with an overall record of 5-1.
Jay gave up only four extra base hits this spring. He did not give up a single home run.
Jay was not highly recruited out of his suburban Chicago high school. He was undersized and lacked the strength to go much more than a few at-bats against opposing hitters. So, when Jay arrived at Illinois three years ago, he knew that something had to change. He bulked up, adding about 15 pounds of muscle to his formerly 167-pound frame and his fastball ranks in the mid-90s regularly now.
Jay’s determination as a freshman has only grown the longer he’s stayed in an Illinois uniform. Now, he’s considered by many, the best lock-down closer in the Big 10 and, perhaps, the best left-hander in this year’s entire draft class.
Now, Jay is hoping that his performance at the college level can help him make a little bit of history. Illinois has only had one first-round draft pick since 1988 when john Ericks was taken No. 22 overall.
Jay’s strength lies in, quite literally, his strength.
He’s averaging a 93 to 95 mph fastball and he’s added a slider and changeup to his repertoire just to keep opposing batters on their collective toes. Jay is incredibly accurate and he’s athletic, meaning his few innings on the mound of a reliever are rarely taxing on his arm or his shoulder.
While Jay has been used in a, mostly, relief position at the collegiate level, there have been some murmurings that certain teams are looking to transition him to a starter once he’s been drafted. In fact, Illinois announced on Sunday that Jay would get the start in the NCAA Tournament game against Vanderbilt.