Commitment Profile: Jacob Turner

The North Carolina coaching staff has put a priority on signing elite national talents to restock its pitching staff. The latest commitment, Jacob Turner, certainly fits that profile. The St. Charles, Mo. righthander is arguably is one of the top arms in the class of 2009.

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Turner, ranked the No. 5 high school prospect (and No. 13 overall high school or college prospect) in the nation by Perfect Game, starred on the AFLAC All-American Team - striking out five batters in his two inning stint on the mound – and was named to the UnderArmour All-American game. He also pitched this summer for the 18-under USA Baseball squad, compiling a 1-0 record in 10.1 innings of work while striking out 19 batters.

"I first came in contact with North Carolina in early July, which is about the time when my school season was ending," Turner said. "I have always been interested in them for baseball - I wanted to take a visit there, visit with all the coaches and hang out with the players. I really liked it and it would be a place where I could succeed."

Turner committed to the Tar Heel coaching staff on Sept. 10.

"There were a lot of great schools that recruited me, but in the end I felt like North Carolina was the right place," Turner said. "In the end it came down to North Carolina and Vanderbilt - two great schools and two great baseball programs.

"The success of the baseball program especially the past three years going to Omaha is something that I want to do in the future and it made me really look hard at North Carolina. The fact of how much success they have had in the past - I think I can help them continue that."

Turner said he was impressed with the Carolina coaching staff and the way that they've handled their pitching staff.

"I really like the fact that Coach Forbes is very concerned about players' health and that it is not always just about winning - but at the end of the day he really does care about the player," Turner said. "I love how Coach Fox conducts the business of the baseball team - he is a good guy and a great coach and leader."

Another key feature for UNC in Turner's decision was the Kenan Flagler Business School. "I am looking at majoring in business and obviously North Carolina has a great business school and I thought it would be a good fit for me," he said.

Turner's tremendous high school career is evidenced in the statistics. His WHIP his freshman season in 2006 was 1.09 with a 1.11 ERA coming out of the bullpen. His sophomore season he started nine games (with one complete game) and improved his WHIP to 0.947 with a 1.21 ERA. As a junior, he started nine games (four complete games) with a 0.704 WHIP and a 1.45 ERA.

His career record is 20-4 with two saves and 187 strikeouts. He's also played first base for Westminster Christian Academy under head coach Rich Van Gilst.

"Obviously he is talented with a great arm," Van Gilst said. "His work ethic and desire to compete and be the best he can be - in addition to his ability - he has a bright future."

Professional scouts followed Turner's progress this summer and rave about his tools on the mound. His fastball reaches the mid 90s.

"I throw a two- and four-seam fastball, a curveball and a circle change," Turner said. "I am confident on the mound - I can locate my fastball and work my off speed pitches off of the fastball."

His 6-4, 205-pound frame and consistent smooth 3/4 delivery have yielded outstanding scouting reports while competing at the top level of competition internationally.

The Tar Heels have had terrific success in recent years signing top pitching prospects, but not all of those signees have made it to Chapel Hill. Will the Tar Heels be able to get Turner on campus with the Major League Baseball draft luring prospects away with 'life changing' contracts? Last season another talented prep pitcher from Missouri - Tim Melville - chose North Carolina and ended up signing a big contract at the deadline with the Kansas City Royals.

If Turner ends up enrolled at North Carolina, he'll help restock the rotation with elite pitching talent, which will be needed with Alex White eligible for the draft in 2009 and Matt Harvey in 2010.

"Right now I am focused on going to North Carolina," said. "That is the only thing that I have guaranteed is my scholarship to North Carolina and I am looking forward to be able to pitch there."

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