Tigers Scouting Report #6: Spencer Turnbull

After being drafted in the second round of last year's draft, right-hander Spencer Turnbull flashed his impressive stuff in Connecticut. The Tigers have been focused on Turnbull working in the rotation - can he remain there long-term?

Spencer Turnbull


Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 9/18/1992 (2015 Opening Day Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6-4/240
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
Ranking History: #6 (2015)

Background: Popped in the second round out of Alabama in 2014, Turnbull debuted with the Connecticut Tigers in the short-season New York-Penn League. Notched 28-1/3 innings across 11 starts for the CT-Tigers and struggled with 14 walks and only 16 strikeouts, leading to a 4.45 ERA.


2014 Stats - Pitching
Connecticut 1111028.13111614141914.451.590-2

Scouting Report

Body: Physical, strong frame; good muscle throughout; thicker lower half that provides power; has some room to tighten body with pro workout routine; chance to eat innings but has to turn mass into strength.

Delivery/Mechanics: High effort guy that lacks consistency and smoothness; loses arm slot and drops to low-3/4 where pitches lose life and control suffers; needs to focus on gaining consistency, regardless how the delivery looks long term; solid arm speed; action varies on the back side at times.

Fastball: Quality four-seam offering that consistently sits 93-95 mph and will reach 97 in shorter outings or when he needs a little extra throughout his starts; four-seamer gets on hitters quickly and can be tough to barrel when he throws with angle and works toward the lower third of the zone; two-seam FB works 92-93 mph most of the time and flashes good sink that allows him to induce weak contact; two-seam can flatten out if he doesn’t maintain leverage and throw down hill; both pitches are true power offerings and give him potential for an overall plus fastball combination. Grade – Present 6/Future 6+

Slider: Showed progress during pro debut, throwing slider with more hard bite on a consistent basis; still loses snap when he drops the arm to low-3/4 and has to focus on staying on top to keep pitch effective against high level hitters; when overthrown, pitch shows cutter-like action and can still get some weak contact; if he slows the arm, the slider gets soft and can be driven hard by hitters; potential above-average pitch with added consistency. Grade – 5/5+

Changeup: Distant third pitch; really struggles to maintain arm speed and has not demonstrated feel to date; threw rarely last summer and needs to throw more consistently in 2015 to figure out if pitch will work to round out arsenal; more of a straight CH that won’t have huge success against MLB hitters. Grade – 3+/4+

Control/Command: More of a strike thrower that needs to develop command; throws FB at strike zone but doesn’t show ability to consistently work down in the zone or move side-to-side; loses FB up to arm side consistently; control of SL is solid with ability to throw for a strike or in the dirt; potential for average control profile; command will be held back because of mechanics.

Other: Good competitor; focused on mound; gets fired up at times but stays within himself and will only occasionally overthrow fastball; quality kid.

Final Word

Summary: Has two-pitch combination that will work against MLB hitters in some capacity; consistency is only developmental step with two primary pitches, as well as high-effort delivery; changeup is a poor pitch at present and needs considerable reps this summer; hard worker with durable, inning eating body; plenty of work to do if the pitcher is to remain in the rotation, but possibility exists.

Risk: High risk; Remains raw despite college resume; needs to develop control/command and third pitch; very risky starter profile.

Projection: 50-50 shot that Turnbull sticks in the rotation; has substantial developmental hurdles to navigate if starting is in his future; will get plenty of innings to work through development across both A-ball levels and possibly even into Double-A; could reach High-A in 2015 with success through season’s first half; potential 2017 arrival in MLB, though that could accelerate if organization abandons development as a starting pitcher; potential inning-eating #4 starter or setup reliever if rotation doesn’t work.

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