From young minor league prospects to rookie big-league talent, Prospect Press will be providing an inside look at baseball's best talent for years to come. Today's Prospect Press focuses on Detroit Tigers pitcher Jacob Turner.
Two years ago, the Detroit Tigers organization added to their arsenal of young pitchers, selecting Jacob Turner with the ninth pick of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. While Turner was one of the top prep arms available, he was the sixth pitcher and the third high school arm taken. Some of the teams have fared well, though some may be regretting the decision wholeheartedly.
With the fifth pick of the draft, the Baltimore Orioles made one of the biggest reaches of the draft by selecting Matt Hobgood
, the Gatorade High School Player of the Year. While he was not as highly ranked as the Turner, the Orioles grabbed him, for what most experts see as signability concerns. The Giants selected Zach Wheeler
with the following pick and like Turner, he has excelled through the minor league system.
It seems the Tigers got a steal with the ninth pick, taking Turner out of Westminster Christian Academy. He's already done an exemplary job in the minors in just two years in professional ball. After spending the first half of the year in Single-A, the Tigers gave Turner a much-deserved promotion to High-A. At Lakeland, Turner wowed scouts with a plus-fastball sometimes reaching in to the high-90s. While his changeup and curve ball were still works in progress, by the end of the 2010 season, he had proven all he could against the lower level of competition.
Heading in to the 2011 season, Turner's stats spoke for themselves and the Tigers again promoted the young righthander. In just one year in the minors, Turner went 6-5 over 23 starts and recorded eight strikeouts per nine innings. And while someone with Turner's repertoire is expected to have a high strikeout rate, the glaring numbers among his stats were his walks and his batting average against.
Turner showed excellent control throughout 2010 with just 1.8 walks per nine innings and gave up hits at just a .238 clip. Turner hasn't slowed down in 2011, however he has been a victim of dismal run support at Double-A Erie. Even though his walks have risen slightly, his K/BB ratio is still over three and he is still among one of the youngest pitchers at Double-A after just turning 20 years old.
Baseball America's preseason No. 21 prospect has gone 2-1 with a 2.94 ERA and 64 strikeouts in just under 80 innings of work. His fastball continues to stay consistent but his secondary pitches are growing closer to becoming plus pitches with every outing.
These days you can find Turner on the diamond or in the newspapers as beat reporters and fans alike have been clamoring for the day where they may see a the young righty in a Tigers' uniform. His rapid ascent through the low levels of the minors, combined with the Tigers' willingness to promote young pitchers (Rick Porcello
), Turner could see himself in Triple-A after the All-Star break followed by a September call-up.
While it's more likely that Turner will be up in Detroit closer to the 2012 All-Star break, the club's success this year could force their hand if a pennant is in reach. Look out for this young hurler, he'll be up in the majors before you know it.