Position: Right-handed Pitcher
A Missouri high school product, Turner was considered one of the top pitchers in the 2009 prep class. Though he was passed late by some popup guys like Tyler Matzek, Turner was considered a potential top ten pick exiting his junior season.
Popped with the ninth overall pick in the draft by the Tigers, Turner signed for an over-slot bonus totaling $4.7 million on a Major League contract.
Turned signed too late to make his debut in 2009, and he worked only a couple of innings in the Fall Instructional League after a summer off rom pitching regularly.
Starting in the Low-A Midwest League in 2010, Turner was 2-3 in ten starts (11 appearances) for the Whitecaps. He missed some brief time early in the year with tightness in his forearm, but the issue proved to be nothing serious and he had no lingering effects throughout the year.
The Tigers promoted Turner to High-A Lakeland in the second half of the season, and he logged another 13 starts and 61 1/3 innings with the Flying Tigers. As a 19-year old in an Advanced-A league, Turner walked just 14 hitters and allowed 53 hits, while striking out 51 batters.
Turner spent his second spring in Major League camp in 2011 as part of his big league deal, and he was once again impressive against big leaguers early in the year.
Turner's scouting report is full of glowing praise. It is rare that I jot down a 50-grade next to present command for a minor league pitcher, but Turner was one of the few pitchers I did that for in 2010. He projects for plus command at the big league level, and he should be able to locate all of his pitches throughout the strike zone.
His fastball consistently works at 92-94 mph and he can reach 96 with his four-seamer at times. Reports of him topping out at 98 mph are a little overblown, but he could ultimately get there as he finishes maturing physically.
That said, he is a a very physical prospect that has an outstanding frame and good present strength. His arm works well and his mechanics are considered clean by almost all scouts that see him.
Turner also works with a curveball and change-up both of which have flashed as plus pitches at various times. His curveball is a classic power breaker in the upper-70s. He shows good feel for spinning it and though he does overthrow it at times, he's rapidly improving his consistency with the pitch.
He employs a traditional circle grip on his change-up and he gets good sink and some arm-side fade when he keeps it down. His arm speed is good and the pitch has good deception.
With the potential for plus command of three potential plus or better pitches, Turner has everything you want to profile a pitching prospect as a legit #2 starter and potential #1. He'll have to prove it at the MLB level to earn the ace tag, but he has the chance to fulfill that lofty profile.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
Turner had the forearm tightness that sent him to the 7-day DL last spring, but that problem has since vanished. All pitchers at this stage of their development have an elevated risk of injury, but there is nothing in Turner's mechanics or history that suggest he sits at a higher risk level than others.
As is often the case with the Tigers, they did not hesitate to challenge their best young arms. Turner will start the 2011 season at Double-A Erie at the ripe old age of 19. There is little to suggest he isn't ready for the challenge and he should be one of the Eastern League's best pitchers.
It is extremely likely that Turner will get a chance to pitch in Detroit this summer on at least a spot start basis. By the end of the 2011 season, minor league hitters may not be much of a challenge for him. He will enter spring training next year with a serious chance to win a rotation spot in the big leagues, and he could be there to stay at that point.
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