By David Heck, Special to CBS Local Sports
CBS Local Sports will be profiling one young player from each Major League Baseball team every day for the next 30 days as part of our “30 Players 30 Days” spring training feature.
Jacob Turner, Starting Pitcher, Miami Marlins
2012 season: 10 GS, 55.0 IP, 4.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 36 K, 16 BB
Last year was a pretty miserable one for the Marlins. After starting the season amidst high expectations and talk of a division title, Miami faded fast and fell out of the playoff race relatively early. The team started selling off assets before the trade deadline and continued to do so this offseason, transforming from a potential contender into one of the worst teams in baseball.
One of the trades that the Marlins made was to send veteran Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers. In return, the Marlins received Jacob Turner, who was one of the best prospects in baseball at the time. Though he struggled in limited opportunities with Detroit, Turner performed much better after he was sent to the Sunshine State. In six starts (25 innings) for the Tigers, Turner posted a disappointing 8.28 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 11 walks. Batters torched him for a .312 average, putting his WHIP all the way at 1.80.
In seven starts (42.2 innings) with Miami, however, Turner posted a 3.38 ERA with 29 strikeouts and just nine walks. He also proved much more difficult to hit, holding opponents to a .208 average as he compiled a 0.98 WHIP. Turner had a long track record of success in the minors, recording a 3.12 ERA across three seasons, so it’s no surprise that he was able to put it together with enough time in the Majors.
Turner works with a normal pitch repertoire for starters: fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. He was never a huge strikeout threat in the minors – he fanned 7.2 batters per nine innings over three seasons – but he generally kept his walks down while also generating a good number of ground balls. His tendency to pitch to contact also helped him go deep into games and rack up innings; he totaled 166.2 last year, meaning he likely won’t be put on a strict leash this season.
A former first-round pick, Turner will have maintain strong command if he wants to have success at the Major League level. His move to the National League should help, giving him slightly weaker competition as he gets used to the Majors. There won’t be a whole lot of things to look forward to in Miami this season, but watching Turner develop will be one of them. The 21-year-old right-hander should be one of the team’s more effective starters this year, with plenty of room to grow in the future. The Marlins’ fire sale surely hurt the fans, but the deal that brought in Turner might be one that truly benefits Miami in the long term.
Next up on March 20: Atlanta Braves