The Detroit Tigers Minor League affiliates seasons are officially in the books and the off-season is in full swing. With another season completed, the time has come for John Verburg and I to announce our 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List. Over the last month John and I have combined our lists to form a final product for our readers. Each players production, ceiling, floor and positional value ultimately determined their overall ranking. The finalized prospect list will be rolled out five at a time on my end covering each players background and a description on why they’re ranked that high and/or low. John will follow with a more detailed scouting report on each of the prospects.
Be sure to check back frequently and join the discussion as we work our way through the 2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects List.
2012 MCB Detroit Tigers Top 50 Prospects: #1 Jacob Turner
Height: 6′ 5″
2011 MiLB Teams: AA-Erie & AAA Toledo
2011 MiLB Stats: 4-5 131 IP 3.44 ERA 1.16 WHIP 8.0 H/9 2.4 BB/9 7.6 K/9 0.7 HR/9
2012 Projected Teams: AAA-Toledo & Detroit
The Detroit Tigers selected Jacob Turner with the 9th overall pick of the 2009 draft. The 6’5 right handed pitcher was 7-2 with a 0.60 ERA in his final season at Westminster Christian HS (Missouri). In 58 1/3 innings of work Turner struck out 113 while walking just 13 his senior season.
Contract negotiations came down to the wire but Turner eventually signed for a reported $5.5 million Major League contract, including a (then) club record $4.7 million bonus.
Turner began the 2010 season in Class-A West Michigan, posting a 3.67 ERA over 54 innings. He did a good job of limiting his walks, (1.5 BB/9) while striking out nearly a batter an inning (8.5 K/9). His outstanding performance in the Midwest League earned him a mid-season promotion to Advanced-A Lakeland.
Despite being one of the youngest players in the Florida State League, Turner continued to shine. He posted a 2.93 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP over 61 1/3 innings for the Flying Tigers. Turner allowed a respectable 14 walks, while striking out 51 over that span.
Last season Turner was once again challenged as he began the year in AA-Erie. In 17 starts–113 2/3 innings–Turner posted a shiny 3.48 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Turner accumulated 90 strikeouts and issued 32 walks for the SeaWolves.
Turner’s performance earned him a spot start with the big league club in late July. He would last 5 1/3 innings against the Angels, surrendering 2 runs and striking out 6 in his Major League debut.
After his spot start, Turner was re-assigned to AAA-Toledo. Turner was impressive in his three starts with the Mud Hens, posting a 3.12 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He notched a win, 20 strikeouts and allowed just 3 walks over 17 1/3 innings.
Turner earned two more spot starts when the rosters expanded in September. The results were a little less impressive though, as he surrendered 11 runs over 7 1/3 innings. Regardless, Turner’s very aggressive 2011 campaign was extremely impressive.
Turner throws from a high 3/4 arm angle. He has a clean, simple delivery that he repeats very well. His control and command receive rave reviews for their already above-average grades. The majority of scouts also project plus command and control for Turner down the road. Turner features a strong and improving baseball IQ. His mound presence and confidence are far beyond his years.
His fastball could eventually reach plus velocity given his size. Currently both his 2 and 4-seam fastballs are above average offerings though. His 4-seam fastball can touch as high as 95, but you’ll see it sit regularly between 92 and 94 mph. His 2-seam fastball will sit regularly between 90 and 92 mph. Both offerings feature heavy late life. He became much more proficient with his 2-seamer last season, generating lots of ground-outs and weak contact from the offering.
Turner has a legitimate plus curveball that sits in the upper 70s. I observed a lot of growth in the pitch his first season in Advanced-A Lakeland. Like most young pitchers he lacks consistency from time to time. Regardless, his curveball is pretty solid and should only continue to improve.
Originally more of a “show me” offering, his change-up has become one of the top changes in the Tigers system. His mid-80s change already receives above-average grades and has a decent shot of evolving into a plus offering.
Why He’s This High/Low:
Jacob Turner is arguably the Tigers top prospect. Although it took a bit of an argument on my end to convince our own John Verburg, we’re going with Turner for the top spot.
You’ll read a lot of reports that project Turner to be an ACE. We both see Turner as more of an above-average second or third starter though. He possesses the tools and the drive to become an ACE. Similar to Rick Porcello, he could struggle to reach his ceiling because of the Tigers ignorant ways. Rather than let Turner polish his game in AAA-Toledo, I fear he’ll likely become the teams fifth starter at the beginning of next season. As we’ve learned with Porcello, it can be a bumpy ride for starting pitchers with limited experience.
That being said, Turner should still be a very solid pitcher. His ideal frame should allow him eat innings. He should be able to miss bats at a decent clip and keep the ball on the ground, regularly keeping his team in the game.
Turner should begin the season in AAA-Toledo. However, as I said before, the Tigers lackadaisical approach towards adding a fifth starter worries me that they’ve settled on Turner. I expect lots of peaks and valleys, regardless of where he lands next season. The overall finished product should be something special though!