Tyler Jay's amazing junior season has been well-documented. Pitching in relief for the Fighting Illini, he's posted a 5-1 record while also collecting 14 saves. He has a fastball that sits in the mid 90 mph range and can hit 97 and 98 MPH when needed. He's struck out 70 batters in 60 innings and only issued seven walks. Not to mention his ERA, which currently sits at an incredible 0.56. It's clear that Jay is one of, if not the best, pitching prospects in the 2015 MLB draft, but where will he land four days from now on draft night?
Potential Landing Spots
Arizona Diamondbacks -- It would be very unlikely that Jay gets selected with the number one pick, but stranger things have happened. The Diamondbacks have expressed interest in him, with their farm director saying "If you're going to take a short college pitcher it's Jay. He's been extended. He's as athletic. And he's lefthanded." That said, it's still a longshot that the D-backs pass up on some of the offensive talent on the board to take him.
Houston Astros -- The Astros drafted from the top spot in last year's draft, but failed to sign their pick so they will be entering this year's draft with two of the first five selections. Having that extra pick could give them the flexibility to take a chance on Jay and stockpile their farm system. Houston is an up-and-coming team this season and looks like they're not that far off from contending, so if they were to select Jay he might rocket through the minor leagues to try and give them bullpen support for a playoff run.
Colorado Rockies -- The general consensus is that Colorado really wants Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson (who will be facing off against Jay and the Illini this weekend), but most every draft website projects Swanson to be a top-two pick. If he somehow falls to third overall, expect the Rockies to select him, but if he doesn't Jay could definitely be an option. It will certainly be a tough task to pitch in the altitude of Coors Field, where fly-balls turn into 400-foot home runs, but if there's anyone who could transition into a starting role for a team that's in desperate need of pitching, it's Tyler Jay.
Chicago White Sox or Chicago Cubs -- Coming into the year and throughout the Big Ten portion of the schedule, Jay was projected to be a borderline top ten overall pick. Many experts were saying that there's a good chance he gets drafted by either of the Windy City teams and stays in-state. But he's continued to be an absolutely dominant force out of the bullpen for the Illini and his stellar relief appearance against Wright State only boosted him further up most scouts' draft boards. This is the time of year when your performance really counts, and Jay is delivering. At this point it would be considered a small miracle if he fell to eighth (the Sox) or ninth (the Cubs) overall. But if he were to slip that far, his talents would match up well with both Chicago farm systems.
For the south-siders, they could use someone like Jay to help support their bullpen in the near-future and maybe try to convert him into a starter later on down the road. The White Sox drafted Carlos Rodon, a stud left-handed pitcher, third overall last season and he's already in the majors so if they were to select Jay he could find himself on a similar path to the bigs.
As for the Cubs, they'll take all the pitching they can get. Their organizational plan when they started their rebuild under Theo Epstein was to draft and stockpile hitting, and to find pitching via free agency or trades. But now that the offensive plan is starting to come to fruition, they could really use a solid reliever to be a late-game shutdown guy. Their bullpen has the third-highest earned-run average among National League teams, and they've blown a league-high eight saves, so someone who carries a 0.56 ERA would be more than welcomed.
There are four main websites/experts that focus on draft prospects and their potential landing spots. Here are where they project Tyler Jay to be selected:
As you can see it's a consensus that Colorado will select Jay with the third overall pick according to the pundits. Where do you think Tyler Jay should/will land? Drop by in the comments section below and be sure to cast your vote!