Name: Trea Turner
Born: June 30, 1993 (21), Lake Worth, Florida
Height/Weight: 6'1", 171 pound
School: North Carolina State University (North Carolina)
With a .379 batting average and 13 stolen bases as a junior and a .478 batting average and 25 steals as a senior, Trea Turner drew the interest of Rolando Pino, a scout then with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pinto saw a great future for the soon-to-be Park Vista High School graduate. He convinced the Pirates to draft the young middle infielder with their 20th round pick (602nd overall) in the 2011 MLB Draft. Pino saw so much potential in him that he persuaded the organization to offer Turner more than $500,000 to sign with them. But Turner did not sign, instead electing to attend North Carolina State to play for the Wolfpack. There, he blossomed as Pinto predicted.
Speed is a major part of Turner's game, and he lit the base paths on fire as a freshman in 2012. He led the entire collegiate circuit with a whopping 57 stolen bases in 61 attempts, breaking North Carolina State's single-season record. He started the season an incredible 29-for-29 before finally getting thrown out for the first time. Like Babe Ruth's home run total, Turner's stolen bases surpassed the total of nearly half of the teams in Division I baseball.
Manning the hot corner, his bat was no slouch, either. The freshman hit an impressive .336/432/.459, his speed undoubtedly helping him leg out a few infield hits and stretch a few singles into a few doubles. He opened the eyes of many and won numerous awards and was voted onto numerous honorary teams.
As a sophomore, he missed eleven games with an ankle injury, but his bat and legs didn't particularly suffer. He stole 30 bases in 36 attempts, still a good success rate. He led the Wolfpack in batting average, runs scored, hits, triples, total bases, walks, on-base percentage, and steals. Turner became NC State's career stolen base leader that season, surpassing the previous mark in only 94 career games there. Once again, he won numerous awards and was voted onto numerous honorary teams.
Entering his junior season, based on his numbers from 2012 and 2013, there was a very distinct chance that Trea Turner would be drafted in the top three of the 2014 MLB Draft. Perfect Game USA went as far as to rank Turner the fifth-best collegiate prospect in 2014. His numbers took a slight hit during the 2014 season, as he hit .318/.414/.507 in 211 at-bats. On the surface, that might look like a slight red flag, but in reality, those numbers might be truer of Turner's actual talent level than his 2012 or 2013 numbers. Both years, he posted extremely high batting averages on balls in play—374 and .393, respectively—as opposed to his .326 in 2014. While there are certainly other things that factor into BABIP other than luck, many of the bloops that were landing for hits in the past simply were finding gloves in 2014. Scouts have seen no noticeable decrease in speed in the wake of his ankle problems in the past.
Regardless, Turner certainly has the most speed of any player in this draft class, and he is a true shortstop that will be able to stick at the position at the MLB level. He might not be one of the first players drafted this year, but he is a bona fide first round pick, and will be selected very early on.
What The Scouts Think
Despite his high school and collegiate numbers, scouts have a dim view on Turner's ability to hit at the MLB level. His swing is long, making him vulnerable to pitches inside and pitches with plus speed that he doesn't have the bat speed or wrist strength to catch up to. Because he isn't completely devoid of home run power, he sometimes gets into bad habits, swinging with too much of an uppercut, or with too much of an intent to pull the ball, making his swing even longer. He has always exhibited a good eye at the plate, and has walked at a good rate. Coupled with his speed, if Turner is able to hit a lick, he would be an ideal leadoff candidate. A chemical engineering major, he'll look to be the catalyst for whichever team drafts him. If his bat gives him trouble against more advanced pitching, he is more likely to be consigned to the bottom of the order.
Defensively, Turner has improved at shortstop to the point that there is no real doubt that he will be able to play the position. Originally a third baseman, he was converted to short during his sophomore season, and while he wasn't terrible, there was clearly room for improvement. He made those improvements, and while he isn't a defensive whiz, he won't embarrass himself with the glove. Tapping into his speed, he has plus range. His hands are smooth, and while his arm isn't plus, it's more than adequate.
And, to state the obvious, Trea Turner has speed. He has it in spades.
What Alex Nelson Thinks
Turner principally has two things going for him: speed and defense. If you were to build a shortstop, he'd look a lot like Turner: he has size but not so much that he'd risk outgrowing the position, his infield actions are graceful and fluid, and while the arm isn't great, it's sufficient and accurate. He's not only a good bet to stick at the position, he's a good bet to excel there. And the speed is incredible, and he pairs it with wonderful instincts—I can easily see him stealing 40 bags in the majors, and probably more if he can get on base enough.
Which is the problem. He's willing to take a pitch, and he really doesn't strike out overly often, but his swing is just awful. He loads his hands way too far back, draws his whole weight up and away from the pitch. He really winds up and swings with all his might at the ball, and he just doesn't have the strength. It's the difference between Turner hitting, say, five and ten home runs, but it might also be the difference between a .220 and .270 batting average. And it's a shame: with a simpler approach, Turner could be a very exciting player.
"He should be a solid MLB shortstop, wreaking havoc on the bases, exciting anyone who watches, other than the opposing team."
—Matt Garrioch, minorleagueball.com