With the MLB draft a little more than a week away, rumours are starting to fly, and the picture is becoming clearer as to the direction certain teams are leaning. As much as any team in the league, opinion around the media has the Jays taking an aggressive approach because they have two picks so early, and with that, the bigger budget.
On Tuesday night, I received an email unprompted from a Major League scouting contact telling me that the Jays are “locked in” on selecting North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner in next weeks draft. This surprised me because the Jays haven’t taken a college position player in the top 100 picks during Anthopolous’ tenure as general manager. (Marcus Knecht at #113 in 2010 is the highest college hitter selected in the Anthopoulos era) Not only do I hold this source in high esteem, but it seems the buzz that he is passing along has found its way into the hands of the public mock draft sources as well.
– Chris Crawford of MLBDraftInsider has the Jays taking Turner at #9 commenting
“They get two, and I think with one of those two they’ll take Turner. I’ll talk about the other options in pick No. 11”
–Baseball America agrees at #9.
“Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos was on hand for Trea Turner’s fine Tuesday effort against North Carolina that included a long triple and a potential steal of home, when the Wolfpack shortstop was ruled out by a home-plate umpire who was finishing a showy called third-strike call and did not get a good look at the play.”
So we can now focus in on who Trea Turner is as a player, and what we could possibly be getting come next Thursday.
Trea Turner – Shortstop – North Carolina State
Age on Draft Day – 20.9
Height – 6’2”
Weight – 160 lbs
Kiley McDaniel – #8
Keith Law – #22
Chris Crawford – #22
MLB.com – #13
Baseball America – #12
Perfect Game – #9
Fielding Video #1 –
Hitting Video #1 –
Turner was a player who prior to the 2013 season, looked to be a contender to go in the top 3 picks alongside his teammate at NC State, Carlos Rodon. Unfortunately for Turner, Rodon, & the Wolfpack, they’ve all seen their fortunes tumble after a poor spring that saw NC State miss out on the post season. He did bounce back late in the year to still post a respectable final line, and does seem to be trending back up people’s draft rankings. At the plate, he has a fairly lengthy swing that doesn’t allow his elite speed to play up.
Scouts seem to disagree on whether he is a top of the order bat long-term, or whether he will be able to make the adjustments in his approach required.
Nick Faleris reported this week ($)
– “Despite plus to plus-plus speed, Turner doesn’t profile well as a top-of-the-order bat due to a lengthy swing that sweeps in and out of the hit zone with little pitch plane overlap. An overhaul in approach that involved a greater focus on putting the ball on the ground and working middle-out could serve him well.
MLB.com is a little more generous rating his hit tool a 50, noting
– “With his wheels and ability to make contact and control the strike zone, he has the tools to become a quality leadoff hitter at the Major League level. The key will be toning down his swing, which can get long, and his approach, which can get a little out of control. He can get home run-conscious and would be best served by focusing on getting on base”
Defensively is where Turner is a standout. The majority of college shortstops are often seem destined to be shifted almost immediately in the professional career, either to 2nd or 3rd base, and that doesn’t seem to be the consensus with Turner.
Faleris again –
– “Turner has solid range to the glove side and is comfortable both coming across and behind the bag. He has enough arm strength for the position, including to the backhand, but can get lax in his footwork, leading to inconsistencies in his throws. He has shown this spring he has the physical tools to stick at short, long-term, but needs to improve his focus and execution”
Overall, the Jays will be getting a relatively low upside player, who’s likely projection is a bottom of the order, plus defensive shortstop. The same scout that passed along this information also shared with me his extensive scouting report which was a resounding “meh”. It’s hardly a terrible pick, but it feels like a relatively boring pick. That can be OK if at the same time they are swinging for the fences with their remaining first round pick (which I expect them to do, and will address in a subsequent article). Every signal out there, from the mock drafts, to Alex Anthopoulos’ travel plans, to scouting contacts of mine is pointing very strongly in Trea Turner’s direction. The question of whether he’s the right pick, however, is a lot less clear.
Videos via BP.