Turner Looks to Contribute in Stretch Run

After two full seasons of minor league baseball, Jacob Turner appears ready for a full-time Major League gig. The 6-foot-5, 20-year-old righty is rated by TigsTown.com as the top prospect in the Tigers' organization, and one of the top 20 prospects in baseball according to scout.com.

Now, with the Tigers in postseason contention, the talented youngster may be counted on to help the team through the stretch run. Turner is starting Sept. 1, but what happens after that has yet to be determined.

"Just got to go out and do the best I can then, but as far as anything past that, they'll tell me what they want me to do and just go from there," Turner said.

One main question surrounding a young player, especially around this time of the season, is whether or not he can handle the increased pressure that comes with pitching in a playoff race.

However, according to Toledo manager Phil Nevin, Turner is capable of handling himself in those types of situations.

"Make-up wise, you'd never guess that he's a 20-year-old kid," Nevin said. "He's very professional, just a big league guy, and I'm very impressed with his maturity."

Having only pitched two professional seasons, Turner has already added an impressive list of accolades to his resume, all suggesting the fact that he has a bright immediate future.

After being the No. 9 overall pick out of high school in 2009, Turner was named a mid-season All Star pitching with Western Michigan in 2010. At that level, he posted a 3.67 ERA in 11 games. That 3.67 ERA, coincidentally, is currently his highest at any minor league level.

Then this season, he was a mid-season Eastern League All Star while pitching or Erie, where he had a 3.48 ERA in 17 starts this season. He also pitched for the United States during the Futures Game during All Star weekend this season.

"A lot of things have gotten better for me [this season]," Turner said. "I've gotten more consistent with my pitches and more consistent with my approach on the mound. Those things help you a lot."

One thing that may help Turner down the stretch is that it will not be his first taste of big league action. He made his big league debut July 30 against the Angels, where he allowed only two runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched.

"It was awesome, kind of a dream come true to be able to make it to the Major Leagues, and to be able to pitch against the Angels with the Tigers in the pennant race was pretty cool," Turner said.

While many top prospects are fast risers, very few do it with the level of success Turner has enjoyed.

He pitched at two levels in 2010: Single-A Western Michigan and Double-A Erie, where he had a combined 3.28 ERA in 23 games. Then this season, he started at Erie, before a one-start stint with the Tigers.

He then pitched three games at Triple-A with Toledo, before his recall to the majors.

In his 20 minor league starts this season, he posted a strong 3.44 ERA.

"It's just a matter of getting innings under my belt and getting better," Turner said of pitching at three different professional levels this season. "The better off I can be on the mound, the easier the game is going to be, so the more innings I get, I think that translates to more consistency."

Even though Turner has as much talent as any pitching prospect in baseball, he knows that if he is to have success in the majors, he needs to continue to work hard to improve.

Nevin believes that, even though he only got a brief look at Turner, the youngster is on his way to doing great things.

"It's not too far away where you're going to see him pitch every fifth day in the big leagues," Nevin said.

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