Position: Righ-handed Pitcher
Turner was the Tigers first round pick out of a Missouri high school, signing at the August 17 deadline for a $4.7 million bonus. He signed a Major League contract and was immediately placed on the Tigers' 40-man roster.
Turner signed far too late to make his professional debut in 2009, but he was present for the Fall Instructional League in Lakeland. Turner made one formal game appearance, pitching a scoreless inning before leaving the contest with control trouble and some tightness in his shoulder; neither of which were a significant concern.
As a member of the 40-man roster, Turner was invited to big league spring training this year, and he made quite the splash in the process. Working in several big league games, Turner showed outstanding raw stuff and an uncanny poise for a player his age. He impressed Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira when he struck him out (part of striking out three in a row) after loading the bases.
Turner was optioned to class-A West Michigan late in spring training, where he made his official pro debut with five scoreless innings, two hits allowed, no walks, and seven strikeouts on April 10.
There isn't much to pick at with Turner, as he looks like a potential ace in the making, even at age 18. Though Tiger fans may be inclined to compare him to the last phenom to shoot through the system – right-hander Rick Porcello – that comparison doesn't really hold true.
Turner is a pure power pitcher, with a fastball that routinely sits at 92-94, and reaches 97 with some consistency. His fastball has explosive late life, seeming to jump at hitters, and his delivery is so easy it offers some deception given his impressive heater. While Turner must refine his command within the zone, he has shown an aptitude for throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate, and he has been working to elevate the pitch more when he needs a strikeout.
His fastball is backed up by a curveball and a change-up, both of which profile as average to plus pitches. His curveball is a sharp overhand breaker with excellent bite. He can throw it for strikes regularly, but would be well served to refine his ability to bury the pitch as a swing and miss offering at times. The change-up lags behind but shows promise as a potential solid-average pitch that will help him against left-handers at higher levels.
Turner's mechanics are easy and smooth, and he repeats his delivery very well, thanks to his outstanding athleticism. He is an intelligent pitcher with a good head for the game, and given his athleticism, he fields his position well. He needs to improve his ability to control the running game, but that should come with experience.
Turner has everything needed to be a future big league ace. His biggest flaw right now is simply a lack of innings. He needs experience at the minor league level, and though that is the case, his raw talent is such that he will likely move very quickly through the system.
Did not pitch professionally in 2009
The shoulder stiffness Turner suffered during the fall was nothing of significant concern, as he had taken several months off from competitive game action prior to throwing during FIL. He was back throwing on the side during the fall in a matter of days.
Turner was scratched from his April 20 start with West Michigan due to what's being termed forearm tightness. Early reports there is again no significant concern, but he will be guarded closely this year, and could be held out of some starts here and there due to nothing more than the organization being overly cautious with its investment.
Though some in the organization lobbied hard for Turner to start the 2010 season at High-A Lakeland, there will be plenty of time to get him there this year. If he continues to dominate during his time in the Midwest League, the Tigers may be forced to move him to Lakeland in the second half of the season; something they've done in the past after a player has been rewarded for their strong performance at a level.
Unless Turner has a significant setback like an injury or some other unforeseen problem, he could easily reach Detroit for a cameo appearance by the end of the 2011 season. Though there are numerous high ceiling starting pitchers throughout the organization, none of them will stand in the way of Turner if and when he shows he is ready for his next challenge.
Turner could easily have been the number one prospect in the TigsTown rankings this year, and will almost certainly be considered among the game's top prospects by the end of the 2010 campaign. The only reason he wasn't number one this time around was due to a cautious approach after he didn't participate in games during the fall. He is a legit prospect, and the hype he is receiving after his stellar spring and start to the season, is warranted.