Mayo: 5 quickest-to-the-bigs draftees
Twins top pick Jay could find himself in similar position as Royals' Finnegan last year
The goal in any Draft is to find big leaguers. That's it, plain and simple.
The long-term hope is to get impact players, future All-Star-caliber players. Short-term, getting them to the Major Leagues sooner rather than later is often a bonus. Brandon Finnegan's super-quick path from the College World Series to the World Series with the Royals last year was perhaps an extreme example, but there's no question that teams are interested in finding players in the Draft who could potentially pay quick dividends.
That could mean a Finnegan-esque climb between June and September. It could mean a big league callup not long into a first full season, like Carlos Rodon of the White Sox or Jacob Lindgren in the Yankees' bullpen. With a little patience, say a year, there are the Kris Bryant and Chi Chi Rodriguez types.
Without question, several members of the freshly selected Draft Class of 2015 have the look of quick-to-the-big -leagues types. The stars were aligned in Finnegan's case, the 17th overall pick on a team that found itself competing for the postseason. There aren't that many teams in a similar boat: taking a college pitcher who can pitch out of the bullpen -- the kind of player most agree could make that jump to the Majors -- while also competing for a postseason spot.
Those stars may be lining up this year, too. In an informal survey of scouting directors after the completion of the first 10 rounds of the Draft, the answer to the question, "Who will be the first 2015 draftee to the big leagues?" was unanimous.
1. Tyler Jay, LHP, Twins (Round 1, No. 6 overall): Jay and the Twins do check off the Finnegan boxes. He's an advanced college pitcher. He knows how to pitch in relief. He actually is fresher than Finnegan was in 2014. Finnegan had started for TCU as a junior and threw 105 2/3 innings before zipping to Kansas City. Jay has almost exclusively relieved throughout his Illinois career, his Super Regional start notwithstanding. He's collected just 66 2/3 innings this season, with perhaps more in the tank.
The Twins could be this year's Royals, the surprise contenders in the AL Central. They are, after all, just a game behind the division-leading Royals after Tuesday's loss to Kansas City. And it appears the plan is to let Jay relieve this year, then let him develop as a starter heading into 2016.
2. Carson Fulmer, RHP, White Sox (Round 1, No. 8 overall): Jay isn't alone in the "close to the big leagues college pitcher" category. Many directors feel Fulmer could follow a similar path, and he could help out a bullpen immediately, as well. However, he's thrown 114 innings and still has more to go in the College World Series. The White Sox are only 6 1/2 games out of first, so it's not completely out of the question that they could climb back into the race and shorten Fulmer up for the short-term. If not, perhaps he could fit more onto the Rodon path in Chicago, getting to The Show in 2016 in some capacity.
3. Dillon Tate, RHP, Rangers (Round 1, No. 4 overall): The Texas Rangers are in second place in the AL West. Could they ask the same thing of their first-round selection? Tate did excel, after all, in a relief role at Santa Barbara, as well as with Team USA, prior to this year. He was not mentioned prominently by directors, perhaps because his 103 1/3 innings this season were more than double his career total heading into 2015.
4. Riley Ferrell, RHP, Astros (Round 3, No. 79): College relievers are often believed to be fast risers, and the Astros did take Ferrell in the third round. But TCU's closer is still pitching in the College World Series and has really struggled of late in the postseason. Starter Thomas Eshelman, taken by Houston in the second round, isn't going to help this year. But his plus-plus command should get him to the big leagues extremely quickly.
5. Dansby Swanson, SS, D-backs (Round 1, No. 1 overall): Pitchers haven't cornered the market on the fast track, though no hitter is expected to break through in 2015. Many directors feel the bats taken at the very top of the Draft should hit their way to big league lineups in short order. Swanson was mentioned by several, even by one who pointed out that position players aren't typically considered to be as fast to get to the Major Leagues. The industry seems to feel that the No. 1 overall pick may not need much seasoning before being ready to contribute to the D-backs. No. 2 pick Alex Bregman was considered to be in a similar boat, though some positional logjams in Houston would have to be cleared to make that happen.
If none of these players makes an immediate impact, that doesn't make them disappointments. Keeping in mind that all of these candidates are college players coming off long collegiate seasons, it might not be until next year that they can truly get going.
"Most are college guys," one scouting director said. "You aren't going to see who they really are until next year. They'll get to adjust to the pro game. Spring Training will allow the manager and general manager to have more of a comfort level."
Be sure to check out rounds 11-40 on Wednesday starting at noon ET on MLB.com.