Tigers Prospect Profile #1: Jacob Turner

Turner is #1 for the second straight year

For the second straight season, the Tigers top prospect in the organization is right-hander Jacob Turner. The youngster came into spring camp this season with a chance to win the fifth starter's job in the big league rotation, but a slow starter coupled with tendinitis killed that opportunity. Still, what has the Tigers so excited and optimistic about his future?

Jacob Turner
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-5
Weight: 210
Born: 5/21/1991
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Background
After drafting Turner in 2009, the Tigers agreed to a $4.7 million bonus on a Major League contract to get him into the system. Turner signed too late to make his official debut in 2009 and was assigned to West Michigan to start the 2010 season.

With the Whitecaps, Turner was just 2-3 in eleven games despite notching a 3.67 ERA. In 54 innings he allowed 53 hits and struck out 51 while walking only nine batters.

The Tigers promoted Turner to High-A Lakeland in the second half and his performance took off with the promotion. In 13 starts for the Flying Tigers Turner posted a 2.93 ERA with less than eight hits allowed per nine innings. He struck out 7.5 batters per nine and walked just two per nine.

The Tigers again promoted Turner in 2011, this time starting his season at Double-A Erie. Through 17 starts with the SeaWolves, the 20-year old Turner allowed only 102 hits in 113 2/3 innings. He again posted excellent strikeout and walk numbers, fanning 90 and walking just 32.

The Tigers called Turner up to the big leagues for a couple of spot starts last year and it wasn't always pretty. After allowing just two runs on three hits and striking out six in his Major League debut in July, Turner was roughed up for eleven runs over 7 1/3 innings in his next two starts in September.

Sent back to the minor leagues after his debut, Turner made three more starts for Triple-A Toledo. In 17 1/3 innings he fanned 20 batters, walked three and allowed just 15 hits.

Scouting Report
Turner offers an intriguing combination of power and finesse. He is a big, strong athlete with an excellent pitchers frame. He uses his body well, generating a powerful delivery and good angle to the plate.

Turner features both a two- and four-seam fastball. He relies heavily on the two-seam fastball to induce weak contact and generate ground balls. The pitch sits in the low-90s and he commands it well to all four quadrants of the strike zone.

The four-seam fastball can reach 96-97 mph when he needs it and he has the ability to blow it by hitters, though he rarely takes advantage of this skill. Scouts would like to see Turner pitch off his fastball more and challenge hitters to hit his premium stuff, thus setting up his secondary pitches even better.

Both Turner's curveball and change-up offer plus potential, which scouts preferring his hard 12-6 breaker more at this time. He is still learning to use his curveball as a chase pitch out of the strike zone and once he does that he could easily see a bump in his strikeout rate.

Turner's change-up is one of the best in the Tigers system and flashes as an above-average pitch now with hints of sink fade at times.

Despite his power, Turner offers outstanding control for such a young pitcher. He has an advanced feel for command an pitch sequencing for his age and that should only improve as he gains more experience against top-flight hitters.

Turner has all the ingredients to develop into a number two starter or at worst, a mid rotation workhorse. He is one of the premium right-handed pitching prospects in the game and he has the potential to stabilize a big league rotation for years to come.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

AA

Erie

3-5

3.48

17

17

0

90

32

113.2

1.18

AAA

Toledo

1-0

3.12

3

3

0

20

3

17.1

1.04

ML

Detroit

0-1

8.53

3

3

0

8

4

12.2

1.66


Health Record
Turner missed some time at the start of the 2010 season with elbow soreness, though that required nothing more than a brief stint on the disabled list to resolve. He struggled with a dead arm this spring in big league camp and was ultimately diagnosed with tendinitis in his shoulder. The Tigers gave him some rest and began working to regain strength. Early returns have been positive and Turner appears healthy and ready for the 2012 season.

The Future
Entering camp, Turner had the inside track on the Tigers fifth starter job. His tendinitis and some iffy performances nixed that idea as Drew Smyly stepped up and snatched the last spot in the rotation.

Turner will start the year in Lakeland, continuing his comeback from the shoulder woes that plagued him this spring. He is expected to jump to Triple-A Toledo when Smyly is called up to the big leagues.

The Tigers still envision Turner as a key cog in their long term rotation and he could still see ample time in the big leagues this summer.

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