FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins pitching prospect Tyler Jay will move back to the bullpen this season after being converted to a starter last year after being selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Jay, ranked as Minnesota's No. 5 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was a reliever in college at the University of Illinois and remained in that role in his first professional season in '15, when he posted a 3.93 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with Class A Advanced Fort Myers. But last year, the Twins stretched him out to start, and he had a 3.33 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings across Fort Myers and Double-A Chattanooga.
Jay, though, missed the final month of the season with a neck strain. He had a 5.79 ERA in five appearances (two starts) at Double-A, but reached that level quickly in his first full year in the Minors.
The move is expected to allow Jay to get on a faster track to the big leagues, as the lefty has plus-stuff with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and a wipeout slider. He's earned comparisons to Twins closer Glen Perkins.
"Nothing is permanent in the prospect development process but this is a collaborative decision to put Tyler in the best situation for success," Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "Each organization is striving to maximize the strengths and abilities of each of our players and this decision reflects that objective."
Jay, 22, could reach the Majors this season, as he's expected to be part of Chattanooga's bullpen to open the year. The move also isn't necessarily permanent, as there remains a chance he could return to starting next year.
• Right fielder Max Kepler remains out with an abrasion on his right pinkie suffered Saturday, but is expected to be in the lineup on Monday.
• Adalberto Mejia was scheduled to throw in a Minor League game on Monday, but will instead make the trip to Dunedin to pitch in relief against Toronto.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.