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Trea Turner is the Man 

downloadWith the 13th overall selection of the 2014 First Year Player Draft, the San Diego Padres chose SS Trea Turner, Jr out of North Carolina State.  The early picks of the draft were dominated by pitchers, which left a player still on the board that the Padres did not expect to still be there (per Corey Brock on twitter). Turner had projected to be gone in the top 10 picks according to many of the mock drafts available (including CBSSports.com, Bleacherreport.com, Jonathon Mayo and Jim Callis of mlb.com). The Toronto Blue Jays were rumored to be very high on Turner but they went pitching and catcher with their two top ten picks.

Turner, 6-1 and 171, has blazing speed (like Billy Hamilton-type speed) but that is not all that he has. He began his career at NC State with a .336/.432/.459 line with 20 extra base hits (5 HR), 41 BB, 38 SO  and 57/61 stolen bases to lead the country, in 63 games. He followed that with a sophomore season of .393/.476/.613 line that saw him switch from playing third base to shortstop. During that year he also had an ankle injury that limited him and he still had 23 of 28 SB with more walks than strikeouts and 7 HR. As a result he was picked to participate in the Team USA Collegiate National Team. At the end of his sophomore season, Kiley McDaniel, Analyst for Scout.com, rated Turner as the top player in the country and thought he would be the first pick in the first round in this draft (ScoutingBaseball.com).

What happened?

In his junior year his line dropped to .321/.418/.516 with 12 2B, 8 HR, 26 SB in 54 games. Although there are some differences of opinion among the scouting reports about his hit tool (more on that below), all the scouts and analysts agree that this player can run and play defense. With a reported home to first base time of 3.42 seconds at his best, Turner not only runs fast but has good instincts and, in the words of one scouting report, “can read pitchers like a scholar”.  He could legitimately be viewed as the new fastest man in baseball.

With an average to above average arm and plus range in the field, Turner is unanimously felt as a career shortstop by scouts. He has quick feet, great instincts and good hands. There should be room for improvement as he has only been playing shortstop at the college level for the past two seasons. He also has experience playing third and was also reported to be more than adequate at 3B.

Given the #14 draft  prospect,rank by MLB.com, Turner had a few knocks against him. Jim Callis cited his long swing and his desire to hit home runs as the biggest flaw in his game. There are questions about his bat speed and his ability to hit inner half heat,  as well as a need to use his lower half more effectively. Then, if you read Mike Rosenbaum of BleacherReport.com or Kevin Gallo (quoted on Cubs Den blog), Turner has plus bat speed, a solid approach, an easy swing with good loft and could develop a 10-15 home run per year ceiling. So time will tell as he progresses through the minors but if the positive reports are true he could move quickly and be an impact top of the order hitter.

There is a Stephen Drew comp according to the talking heads on MLB Network but all agree the Padres got the best college level shortstop in the draft and if he even hits for average while legging out extra base hits he should be able to create havoc on the base paths and could possibly be an impact player on both sides of the ball with a potential as a Gold Glover and All-Star.

Interviewed by the San Diego press right after being drafted, Turner  stated “I don’t want to be a slap hitter but be a dangerous hitter in the lineup.” (Corey Brock, MLB.com).

According to his interview and Padres expectations, when he signs he will report to Arizona for a brief time then on to Eugene to play with the Emeralds.

 

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