Results tagged ‘ Jacob Turner ’

Day 1 notes: Leyland targets Valverde for PFP

Remember Jim Leyland’s running challenge to Justin Verlander on PFP grounders in workouts last spring training? Leyland would crow whenever he got a ground ball past Verlander, who’s competitive enough that he wants to win at that. Kept waiting to see if they renewed the challenge Monday, the first day of spring workouts, but Leyland found a new target for his fun: Jose Valverde.

“I set you up, baby! And I can do it again if I want,” Leyland bragged when he got a tricky ground ball past his closer.

“Anytime I want. Just a little on, a little off,” he said after another one.

Valverde loved it. He had a good laugh whenever Leyland said it. And then he came up with some pretty impressive grabs for a Big Potato.

Leyland loved that, too.

“He’s a fun guy,” Leyland said of Valverde after the workout. “He’s really got one of the better personalities I’ve ever been around. And I guess when you’re that big and strong, it’s probably a good thing you’ve got a good personality.

“He’s legitimately fun to be around. I like him a lot.”

Leyland also likes the PFP drills a lot, because the way they set it up, pitchers see a good number of ground balls without a lot of standing around. They separate the pitchers into groups and split them onto the four back fields of the Tigertown complex, then rotate them around. Each field emphasizes a different area.

“I think it’s a good drill,” Leyland said. “And I will do it for as long as I manage.”

Other things worth noting on the first day of official workouts:

  • Leyland mentioned this as a key camp for Tigers pitching prospects Andy Oliver, Jacob Turner and Charlie Furbush, even though their chances of making the team out of camp are slim (Furbush might have a better chance as a potential lefty reliever). Barring injuries, they won’t be part of the starting five, but they stand as the Tigers’ best options for insurance starters if somebody gets hurt, either here or during the season. “We want these guys to start this process today to get themselves prepared to get as close as they can,” Leyland said. “And if something does come up, maybe somebody is ready by the camp.”
  • For someone with such a key role on this team, Austin Jackson had possibly the quietest entrance of any potential star player this spring, which probably says a lot about how much he has learned in his second year. He showed up Monday morning after the clubhouse had emptied and pitchers and catchers had taken the field, then got in his work.
  • Among the arrivals Monday was Max St. Pierre, who reported to camp noticeably lighter. That wasn’t by design. He said he had two bouts of stomach virus and the flu, the combination of which dropped 15 pounds off his frame. He’s fine now, but he wants to regain some of that weight before the season starts.
  • Speaking of weight loss, Joel Zumaya said he’s down to 230 pounds, but wants to put on some weight before the season starts. “I want to be at the 240 range,” he said. “I’m at 230-231. But that’s just getting muscle and eating a little more. … If I can stay between 235 and 240, I think I’m good.”
  • In case you were wondering, Don Kelly was not among the catchers who took their place for bullpen sessions Monday morning. He was working with the other position players. That’s fine, because Leyland said a month ago that Kelly didn’t have to report with the catchers. Kelly was here early by his own choice.
  • Remember the ill-fated mohawk idea that went through the Tigers clubhouse last year? Detroit’s bullpen might have a replacement for it. Because right now, there are a lot of beards among the relievers, and not many plans to shave them anytime soon. Zumaya has pretty much a full beard and says he’s keeping it when the season starts. Schlereth has a beard fit for his native Alaska. Ryan Perry has a bit of one going. If it catches on, it’ll be a little cleaner looking than the mohawk one.

Turner promoted to Lakeland

As the Grand Rapids Press reported last night, Tigers top pitching prospect Jacob Turner is getting bumped up a rung on the developmental ladder. Detroit has transferred his contract from low Class A West Michigan to high Class A Lakeland.

If this was part of the plan, it wasn’t evident. A month ago, Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the paper a month ago that there were “no immediate plans” to move Turner, that their current thought process was to leave him there. Dombrowski did caution, however, that the plans could change as the season moves on.

Turner’s performance apparently changed some plans, though it wasn’t particularly evident in the numbers. The 19-year-old gave up 10 earned runs on 31 hits over 28 innings in his last five starts, striking out 20 batters and walking five. After beginning the year on the disabled list, Turner went 2-3 with a 3.67 ERA as a Whitecap.


Turner hard to hit in first formal spring outing

Remember this about Jacob Turner’s first official outing of Spring Training: The Yankees couldn’t put the ball in play against him, including Mark Teixeira, who struck out with the bases loaded and two outs.

How did they end up with bases loaded, you ask? Well, that was interesting, too.

Turner’s debut Wednesday didn’t come with anywhere near the hype surrounding Stephen Strasburg’s first start a day earlier, and probably not as much anticipation as Rick Porcello’s first outing two years ago, but it didn’t get overlooked. If it somehow did, he certainly created some anticipation for his first pro season.

An inside pitch that grazed Jorge Vazquez, plus walks to ex-Tiger Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson, loaded the bases with two outs and Teixeira at the plate. Incredibly, Turner gathered himself and worked Teixeira into a situation for a strikeout.

To Turner, it wasn’t so much a matter of calming down, because he felt he was calm.

“I was confident the whole time,” he 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.”

He was the third strikeout of the inning for Turner, and by far the biggest. Former Tiger Mike Rivera and Ramiro Pena were Turner’s other two victims.

How big was Teixeira’s strikeout? By leaving runners on base, Turner became the only Tigers pitcher on the day to not give up runs.

Turner is doing a very good job of not being awed by the situation. A year ago at this point, he was still in high school getting ready for his senior season. Now, he’s already Detroit’s top pitching prospect, according to some publications depending on how they rank Casey Crosby, before Turner even throws a regular-season pitch.

How he was able to get swings and misses from one of the more selective teams in baseball these days was all the more impressive.

“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.”

Tigers all over the place in prospect rankings

So as you might have seen on the site or on MLB Network last night, came out with its preseason Top 50 prospect list. The Tigers came in with two kids on the list: Austin Jackson was the top Tiger at 38th, but first-round draft pick Jacob Turner isn’t far behind at 42.

Today,’s Keith Law came out with his top 100 prospects list. Jackson and Turner are on that list, too, but neither cracked the Top 50. Casey Crosby, however, did. He’s at 45, with Jackson at 70 and Turner at 80. Interestingly, Law is subdued on his projections for Jackson, whom he sees as a true center field with a league-average bat. Scott Sizemore barely missed the top 100, Law writes, and probably would’ve made the cut had his Arizona Fall League not ended early with a broken ankle. Law projects him as a “solid-average regular for several years.”

Not to be overlooked (thanks to Ed Price for pointing it out) is the prospects list from AOL Fanhouse, which has five (count ’em, five) Tigers in the Top 100. Jackson is 25th on that list by Frankie Piliere, who says Jackson has “grown by leaps and bounds since he was drafted.” The next-highest Tiger is Andy Oliver, who didn’t make the other two lists but hits 47th here. Another missing name from the other two rankings, Daniel Schlereth, is 78th, followed by Crosby at 82 and Turner at 90.

My point isn’t to argue that any one list is better than another; I just find the varying opinions fascinating. I’m entering my ninth year on this beat, and I can’t remember such varying national opinions on Tigers prospects. The one thing all these lists have in common is that they show progress in Detroit’s farm system. They’re drafting and developing more high-level talent rather than just one or two really good pitchers, and in the case of Jackson and Schlereth, they’re trading for them too.