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  • Twins Draft Preview: Trea Turner

    If the draft occurred on January 5th, instead of June 5th, there is a good chance Trea Turner would have been selected before the Minnesota Twins made their first round selection, fifth overall. Now just two weeks from the draft’s first round, there is no doubt that Turner will be available to the Twins with their pick. Could the Twins use that pick to take the college shortstop?

    Who is This Guy?

    Trea Turner grew up in Florida and following his high school career, he was drafted in the 20th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Instead of signing an above-slot offer, Turner enrolled at North Carolina State. He arrived as a skinny, 6-1, 170 pounder, and as he (likely) leaves, he will have added about ten pounds to his lanky build.

    As a freshman, he hit .336/.432/.459 (.891) while playing third base. That season, he stole 57 bases in 61 attempts. As a sophomore, he made the move over to shortstop. He hit .368/.455/.553 (1.008). Despite an ankle injury, he still was successful in 30 of 36 steal attempts.

    He came into this season looking to build on those numbers. Going into tournament play, he was hitting .318/.414/.507 (921). These were steps back and yet still very good numbers. He also had stolen 24 of 27 bases.

    Why the Twins will pick him

    As you may assume from his stolen base totals (111-124), he has tremendous speed and is a very good, sound base runner. He has elite speed and was once clocked at 3.42 seconds from home to first base… from the right-handed batter’s box.

    Despite the lanky frame, Turner is not just a slap hitter. In fact, he generally takes a very healthy cut. Over his three years, his extra base hit total went from 18 to 24 to 22. That includes 20 home runs. Certainly his drafting team should not expect 20 homer seasons from Turner, but he will hit a few and drive the ball from gap to gap.

    Turner has also done a tremendous job at controlling the strike zone. In all three years, he has walked more than struck out. In the three years, he walked 115 times while striking out 94 times. This certainly is a strong indicator and could potentially allow him to move quickly.

    On defense, there are mixed opinions on whether he can stick at shortstop. That said, his fielding percentage has continued to improve each year. As a third baseman his freshman year, he posted a .921 fielding percentage. In his first year at shortstop, it improved to 940, and this year, it is .961.

    Though the Twins have some depth at shortstop in the system right now (Danny Santana, Jorge Polanco, Niko Goodrum), the Twins enjoy drafting athletes who can hopefully play in the middle of the field. Turner can. He also has played three seasons of high-caliber college competition as well as competed for Team USA in summers. He could certainly move up quickly.

    Why the Twins won’t pick him

    The Twins typically do not take college bats in the first round. They did take North Carolina infielder Levi Michael with the 30th overall pick in 2011. Before him, the last time the Twins used a first round pick on a college hitter was Travis Lee in 1996 (Matt LeCroy was a supplemental 1st round pick in 1997). Other college bats they have drafted in the first round included Todd Walker (1994), David McCarty and Scott Stahoviak (1991), Chuck Knoblauch (1989)

    The Twins have generally gone with athletic high school bats with big ceilings. There are a couple of them who may also be available to the Twins with the number five pick.

    There is some concern about his decline in performance in 2014, although the numbers are still very good.

    Stop back tomorrow when we will get to know another potential 2014 Twins draft pick.

    The Twins beat the Padres last night so on Wednesday you can get a half price large or extra-large pizza from PapaJohns.com with the promo code TWINSWIN.
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      too much risk for the first pick. I'd much rather have Gordon, Jackson, or a half-dozen pitchers a head of him.
    1. twinsfanstreif's Avatar
      twinsfanstreif -
      I've always liked Turner and I don't get the concern, I think. His bat will be fine. The thing that's weird to me is that everyone (including the Twins apparently) are high on Gordon but to me he looks like a slower, less developed Turner. Maybe I'm just weird.

      another note, Knoblauch was drafted in 89 and was helping us win a WS by 91, it'd be pretty sweet (and I'm aware it's highly unlikely) if we drafted Turner and he did the same!!!
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      [QUOTE=twinsfanstreif;230692]I've always liked Turner and I don't get the concern, I think. His bat will be fine. The thing that's weird to me is that everyone (including the Twins apparently) are high on Gordon but to me he looks like a slower, less developed Turner. Maybe I'm just weird.

      QUOTE] I don't know if you are weird or not but the thought struck me as well. Fine if you want to go with pitching but if you want to go with a shortstop why does Gordon rank ahead of Turner?
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Gordon ranks ahead of Turner (right now) for his bat and intangibles. Everything I've seen points to Turner being a bottom-of-the-order offensive contributor, while Gordon gets above-average marks in that regard (better swing, better contact ability, room for power to develop).

      Gordon gets higher marks for his arm and instincts on defense as well.

      Turner has him in the speed category, but Gordon rates as "Plus" there too.
    1. boney's Avatar
      boney -
      Last year I was hoping the Twins would have a chance to draft Turner this year. I would still love to end up with him, can't help it.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      Will the front office rely strictly on their own judgment with Turner versus Gordon or will they turn elsewhere? I certainly hope the latter as I do with all other potential draft choices. I shudder to think of simply relying on Twins' scouting employees, don't all of us?
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Gordon ranks ahead of Turner (right now) for his bat and intangibles. Everything I've seen points to Turner being a bottom-of-the-order offensive contributor, while Gordon gets above-average marks in that regard (better swing, better contact ability, room for power to develop).

      Gordon gets higher marks for his arm and instincts on defense as well.

      Turner has him in the speed category, but Gordon rates as "Plus" there too.
      Thanks Steve. I hadn't looked too far on Gordon so didn't think he rated as well on what I read. Now I dug a little farther and he certainly does look good. But then the question is why did Seth pick Turner to profile when they just ran an article yesterday showing a consensus for Gordon? I guess you know a college kid has faced better pitchers and Turner has done very well in college but so few of these kids make it anyway I would go with the highest projected upside.
    1. Lonestar's Avatar
      Lonestar -
      Most people have Gordon ranked ahead of Turner now. That's a function of momentum and scrutiny. Gordon is in his honeymoon period. Turner's honeymoon was after two great years in the ACC. Now he has taken a BABIP hit and people question his stance and he is not consistently an 80 runner.

      Some people see Turner's speed and think of him as one dimensional. I see a guy who is great at putting his game changing speed into play. Some people rave about Gordon's arm even though MLB pipeline only gives him a 60. I remember Shawon Dunston.

      Saying Gordon's hit/on-base tool is better than Turner's is rather silly since Turner has put up good to great numbers for 3 in the #2 college baseball conference and Gordon is still in high school. Turner's numbers are as good as Knoblauch's and that's before you adjust for the change in bats or environment (better pitching). Nothing about Knoblauch was bottom of the order until he lost his abiity to throw to first. The advantage Turner has over Knoblauch (why he would be drafted higher) is that he plays average SS -- not plus like they project for Gordon.

      Fix Turner's stance and he is the guy you hope Gordon grows up to be, except he's whiter and faster.

      What is this noise about intangibles?

      Turner is more polarizing than most, but the truth is, after the top tier of Aiken and Rodon, you can throw a blanket over the next 8-10 guys and say pick one. And I would put Turner in that group with Gordon. Let's compare notes in 4 years.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      Will the front office rely strictly on their own judgment with Turner versus Gordon or will they turn elsewhere? I certainly hope the latter as I do with all other potential draft choices. I shudder to think of simply relying on Twins' scouting employees, don't all of us?
      They flamed out with Nishioka but at the time I thought the leading hitter in Japan was worth a flyer. Just didn't like giving up Hardy for the security blanket purposes with Casilla and Plouffe unproven in the infield also. Sano being in the top 5 prospects makes up for that boo boo, IMo. Twins are back for the moment at .500 and have the top rated minors system. Why, exactly, do you shudder? I shudder at the thought of the Wolves drafting the best guy. Twins, not so much.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lonestar View Post
      Most people have Gordon ranked ahead of Turner now. That's a function of momentum and scrutiny. Gordon is in his honeymoon period. Turner's honeymoon was after two great years in the ACC. Now he has taken a BABIP hit and people question his stance and he is not consistently an 80 runner.

      Some people see Turner's speed and think of him as one dimensional. I see a guy who is great at putting his game changing speed into play. Some people rave about Gordon's arm even though MLB pipeline only gives him a 60. I remember Shawon Dunston.

      Saying Gordon's hit/on-base tool is better than Turner's is rather silly since Turner has put up good to great numbers for 3 in the #2 college baseball conference and Gordon is still in high school. Turner's numbers are as good as Knoblauch's and that's before you adjust for the change in bats or environment (better pitching). Nothing about Knoblauch was bottom of the order until he lost his abiity to throw to first. The advantage Turner has over Knoblauch (why he would be drafted higher) is that he plays average SS -- not plus like they project for Gordon.

      Fix Turner's stance and he is the guy you hope Gordon grows up to be, except he's whiter and faster.

      What is this noise about intangibles?

      Turner is more polarizing than most, but the truth is, after the top tier of Aiken and Rodon, you can throw a blanket over the next 8-10 guys and say pick one. And I would put Turner in that group with Gordon. Let's compare notes in 4 years.
      I like your take on it. Twins fans constantly point to the 1st round busts of the Twins as proof on incompetence but the truth is every team I looked at (central division plus Yankees and several others) have about the same history of busts far outweighing successes. As you alluded to, every 1st rounder is a potential Hall of Famer if you read their scouting report at their best but they are about 50 times more likely never to see a day in the majors than they are to be all stars. I won't 2nd guess much regardless of who they pick and who succeeds but there will definitely be a lot of people who will, especially 4 years from now.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Thanks Steve. I hadn't looked too far on Gordon so didn't think he rated as well on what I read. Now I dug a little farther and he certainly does look good. But then the question is why did Seth pick Turner to profile when they just ran an article yesterday showing a consensus for Gordon?
      Because I chose to write the profile for Gordon, haha! (coming in a few weeks)
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      Thanks Steve. I hadn't looked too far on Gordon so didn't think he rated as well on what I read. Now I dug a little farther and he certainly does look good. But then the question is why did Seth pick Turner to profile when they just ran an article yesterday showing a consensus for Gordon? I guess you know a college kid has faced better pitchers and Turner has done very well in college but so few of these kids make it anyway I would go with the highest projected upside.
      Because we'll be doing profiles on 8-10 possibilities, guys that for one reason or another make some sense with the Twins. Shortstop remains (and will always likely be) a position of need and a position you'd want to take several players in the draft. Turner is a college guy who is having a very good serious year but not as great as his sophomore year. He has plus-plus speed, and he's not a slap hitter. He's rumored to go between 6-10, so I'd say he's worth discussing. Come back... I bet there may be a Gordon one coming in the near future.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lonestar View Post
      Most people have Gordon ranked ahead of Turner now. That's a function of momentum and scrutiny.
      That is certainly a factor! I have plenty to say about your other comments, but I'd rather not write a majority of what would be included in his upcoming profile in a comment!
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by oldguy10 View Post
      I shudder to think of simply relying on Twins' scouting employees, don't all of us?
      Nope. The opposite, actually. This system is stacked top-to-bottom and the MLB club is playing .500 ball so far.

      Since Adam Johnson, the Twins have a decent track record with their first pick of the draft:

      2001 - Joe Mauer - 1st - Fantastic pick
      2002 - Denard Span - 20th - Excellent pick
      2003 - Matthew Moses - 21st - UGH
      2004 - Trevor Plouffe - 20th - Decent pick
      2005 - Matt Garza - 25th - Excellent pick
      2006 - Chris Parmelee - 20th - Meh pick, jury still out
      2007 - Ben Revere - 28th - Meh, maybe decent, pick
      2008 - Aaron Hicks - 14th - Jury still out
      2009 - Kyle Gibson - 22nd - Decent pick, jury still out
      2010 - Alex Wimmers - 21st - Ugh, jury still out
      2011 - Levi Michael - 30th - Ugh, jury still out
      2012 - Byron Buxton - 2nd - Whoooooo!
      2013 - Kohl Stewart - 4th - Looking good thus far

      Sure, some of the Twins' supplemental round picks have been bad but you can say that about every team. The supplemental rounds are a crapshoot and while the Twins have badly missed on the Hunts and Bashores of the world, they've also scored big with the Perkins and Berrios of the world.
    1. Tibs's Avatar
      Tibs -
      The numbers are from 1984-1999, but a book put out by guys from Baseball Prospectus shows that college hitters drafted are 50% more likely to reach the majors than high schools at equivalent draft positions. The college hitters also provided a higher WAR on average. However, it appears that the WAR advantage of college hitters over high school hitters drafted in the top 100 shrunk as the 90s went on until it was a slight advantage.

      With this in mind, it would seem to me that Turner is a safer pick than Gordon. I have always preferred Turner over Gordon, but I haven't seen either player play and haven't gone into much depth on their scouting reports.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Lonestar, as I was researching and learning more about Turner, I have many if not most of those thoughts that you have.

      Believe me, it's not a knock on Gordon, but that's the risk/discussion between college guys who are three years older and have played against better competition and HS guys.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      If we look only at competition a HS kid will never be able to compare to a college kid. Not just because of competition level but because of all the advantages that he gets from being in college. College kids have significantly better coaching staffs, have better equipment, better training facilities, and while they do play vs better competition they also have better players surrounding them.

      Outside of speed and level of competition I think Gordon has Turner beat in almost every other category. Gordon has a significantly better arm, has better bat speed, profiles as a plus defensive SS, and let's not forget his strong bloodline. Don't get me wrong, Turner is a solid prospect and great example of how deep this draft is, but I see Gordon has better prospect.
    1. Lonestar's Avatar
      Lonestar -
      Brock, Perkins was the 22nd pick in the first round, two after Plouffe.

      Revere was a head scratcher at the time and a disappointment since we traded him, but we did trade him for Trevor May. And Vance Worley. And that was an incredibly weak draft.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lonestar View Post
      Brock, Perkins was the 22nd pick in the first round, two after Plouffe.

      Revere was a head scratcher at the time and a disappointment since we traded him, but we did trade him for Trevor May. And Vance Worley. And that was an incredibly weak draft.
      Right. Was lazily including "anyone drafted after their first pick" with "supplemental round".

      It's pretty eye-opening to sort drafts by WAR on BB-Ref. Guys like Plouffe, Parmelee, and Revere suddenly look like okay draft picks when you realize that only ~25-30 guys from each draft make the big leagues and post a positive WAR. All three of those guys rank between 10-20th in career WAR from their respective drafts. In the case of Plouffe, he might someday crack the top ten if he continues to post league-average numbers as a third baseman.
    1. twinsfanstreif's Avatar
      twinsfanstreif -
      Steve, I have to disagree with you on Gordon, his bat is a huge question mark with many saying he could be average at best. The same is to be said for Turner and Turner is less of a project with less of an arm but way better speed, I'd take him in a heartbeat over Gordon, I'm just really not sold on him, he reminds me of another guy I wasn't sold on but went high in Tim Beckham, at the time I said it was a huge mistake for TB to draft him over the safer/better pick of Buster Posey. I'm not saying Turner's gonna be Posey but I believe he is the better player
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