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Twins draft hard-throwing Illinois lefty Tyler Jay in the first round

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The Minnesota Twins have selected left-handed pitcher Tyler Jay out of the University of Illinois in the MLB Draft.

Jay has been the closer for the Illini this season, where he was 5-1 and made 14 saves in 29 appearances. Jay pitched 60 1/3 innings, giving up four runs and allowing opponents to hit just .151 against him.

The Pioneer Press notes that Jay becomes just the second Illinois player drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft since it began 50 years ago.

Jay, who has already debuted at Target Field, last month, said he's delighted to be headed to the Twins organization.

There was some thought the Twins were going to take outfield prospect Dazmon Cameron – the son of former Major League outfielder Mike Cameron. But the Twins decided to go with Jay instead, who has been a hard-throwing left-handed reliever in college.

But Johnson believes Jay has the makeup to be a starter in the Majors, with a mid-90's fastball and a good breaking ball.

"We believe he has a legitimate chance to start," Johnson told the Star Tribune. "He throws strikes. He's athletic."

It was the fourth straight year the Twins have had a top 10 pick in the draft, and have had quite a bit of success with those picks – though none of the previous three have reached the Major League level yet.

  • 2014: – Nick Gordon SS – Olympia HS, Orlando, Florida
  • 2013: – Kohl Stewart RHP – St. Pius X HS, Houston, Texas
  • 2012: – Byron Buxton OF – Appling HS, Baxler, Georgia

The Twins' next pick is a compensatory pick at No. 73 overall later tonight.

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