In the middle innings of the Tigers 9-8 loss to the Yankees yesterday in Lakeland, manager Jim Leyland gave the ball to a 19 year old kid and told him to go face the Bronx Bombers. With that, Jacob Turner, the Tigers first round pick in last June’s draft, made his professional debut with the Tigers.
With the Tigers holding a 6-3 lead entering the fourth inning, Turner emerged from the bullpen and took the hill. The first batter he faced was Mike Rivera, a former Tiger catcher who is the definition of a journeyman. Turner struck him out. He hit the next batter with a curveball before rebounding to get a called third strike on another curve to Ramiro Pena before facing the top of the Yankee order.
Again, command was a problem and both Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson battled Turner to each draw walks, loading the bases for Mark Teixeira. How would Turner respond?
By striking out the Yankee slugger to escape the jam and end his day.
The timing of when Turner threw in the game is notable here. Leyalnd could have waited until the Yankees had pulled their regulars and thrown Turner in the late innings, but he wanted to throw the kid into the fire and see how he responded. It was a rough inning, but Turner came away unscathed and turned a lot of heads in the process.
Almost immediately after Turner’s outing had ended, TigsTown‘s Mark Anderson tweeted a text message he had recieved from a scout in attendance. It read “That kid has filthy sh**! He’s going to be really, really good!” Anderson later passed along more raves, quoting one scout as telling him “I was seriously just shaking my head; so freakin’ talented!”, and another said “There’s work to do, but he’s going to move quick. You don’t hold guys like that back. Not quite (Rick) Porcello, but not far off either.”
MLB.com’s Jason Beck recapped Turner’s debut as well, offering that Turner didn’t think nerves were a part of it.
“I was confident the whole time,” (Turner) said after his outing. “Even when I had the bases loaded, when I was walking guys, I wasn’t missing by a whole lot. I was just missing a little bit here and a little bit there. I was confident that I could go out there and throw strikes and hopefully get guys out, and that’s what happened.”
“These guys aren’t going to swing at a lot of bad pitches,” Turner said. “You’re going to have to throw it over the plate if they’re going to swing at it. That’s a complement to them, really.”
Regardless of what happens this season with Turner’s progression, you won’t see him in Detroit. Jim Leyland has already been told that Turner is off limits for the Tigers in 2010. It will be interesting to see where the Tigers choose to assign him to start the year. If the follow the mold they used with Porcello, it’s likely he’ll stay in Lakeland this year. If all goes well, he could see a promotion at some point this summer, but even that remains in doubt.
One thing is for certain about Turner; he has a boatload of talent. Tiger fans everywhere are drooling over the thought of watching him join a rotation that would include Justin Verlander, Porcello, Max Scherzer, and left handed prospect Casey Crosby in as few as a couple of years.
Tags: Jacob Turner