Tyler Jay is clearly adjusting well to his new role as a starter. The 22-year-old lefty was a reliever during his collegiate career, but the Twins converted their No. 3 prospect into a starter and on Tuesday night he delivered the best performance of his young career.Jay carved his way
Tyler Jay is clearly adjusting well to his new role as a starter. The 22-year-old lefty was a reliever during his collegiate career, but the Twins converted their No. 3 prospect into a starter and on Tuesday night he delivered the best performance of his young career.
Jay carved his way through eight scoreless innings, surrendering two hits, striking out 11 and issuing one walk in Class A Advanced Fort Myers' 4-0 win over St. Lucie. Twins No. 24 prospect Yorman Landa completed the shutout by tossing a scoreless ninth inning for the Miracle.
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"Starting is really fun, but to be honest, it's hard to choose," Jay told MiLB.com. "I've been lucky to experience the best of both worlds. The adrenaline rush you get as a closer is awesome, but when you're out there starting and get to work through so many different scenarios ... I'm failling in love with it more and more every day."
The Twins liked what they saw from Jay during his career at Illinois, prompting the club to select him sixth overall in last year's Draft. On Tuesday night, it was evident why Jay -- baseball's No. 55 overall prospect -- is so highly regarded.
Jay's start was dominant in every sense of the word. The eight innings and 11 strikeouts were both career highs for the southpaw. Jay faced just one hitter over the minimum and fired 73 of his 98 pitches for strikes.
Converting from a reliever to a starter isn't always easy and it would have been understandable if Jay had some early struggles, but that hasn't been the case in his first full professional season. Through nine starts, Jay is 4-4 with a 2.44 ERA and has allowed two or fewer runs in seven starts.
"I'm not completely acclimated to the role yet, but I'm definitely getting a better feel for things with each start that I make," Jay told MiLB.com. "The biggest thing is learning how to pitch with the big picture in mind. I have to be much more focused on pitching to contact and being aware of my game plan. In the 'pen, you can get away a little more with just letting it loose."
Jay's best start as a Minor Leaguer caps off a tremendous May. In five starts, he struck out 38 hitters in 32 1/3 innings and finished with a 0.86 ERA.
William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.