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Phillies 2014 Draft Preview - Trea Turner, SS

There's a good chance Turner will be available when the Phillies pick. It would be the second Shortstop in 2 years for the Phillies at the top of the draft, but Turner is a much different player than J.P.

Trea Turner
Trea Turner

Trea Turner is a Junior Third Baseman/Shortstop for the NC State University Wolfpack in Raleigh, NC. He stands 6'2" and weighs 170lbs. Turner came in as a Freshman from South Florida and started for the Wolfpack at 3rd his Freshman year. He immediately showed his absolute game changing speed stealing 57 bases (in 61 attempts!) as a Freshman. Just for the purpose of perspective on those numbers: That is more steals than over half of the individual teams in Division I Baseball. He also had a 5 steal game his Freshman year. We'll talk more tools shortly, but that's the headline here, almost certainly the best speed in the draft.

Turner hit a bit of a speed bump his Sophmore year as he suffered a high ankle sprain, limiting his speed. He started off 8 of 8 on steals in his first 15 games before stepping awkwardly on First Base during a game against Clemson. Expected to miss 4-6 weeks, he was back in less than 3 weeks. His speed wasn't, but thanks to good technique he was still able to steal bases at a near 80% success rate (he finished with 30 steals). Now on to skills:

First video is courtesy of George Bianchi. A few things I note here are a small leg kick for timing and he holds his hands very high. Additionally very good bat speed and he keeps his hands inside and doesn't get full arm extension until he's about to make contact (if you pause the video at 1:07 you'll see Turner looking fairly textbook, though a little in front of the ball). He's slow down the baseline, as it's an obvious hit, but having seen him in person before and after the ankle injury, he timed in the 3.7- 3.9 second range to First prior to the injury and more in the 4.5+ second range afterwards. Those pre-injury times are easy 80 grade speed.

Our next video is also courtesy of George (who seems to have the Trea Turner video market solidly cornered). This time we see batting practice and this video is probably as good as any to point out that Turner bats only from the Right side of the dish. With a lot of elite runners teams like to try them at switch hitting, as they'll have faster times to First from the Left side. I doubt who ever drafts him will bother. He'll be very nearly 21 at the time he's drafted and he's such an advanced hitter already that you could take a guy who might be ready to contribute in 2 or 3 years and push him out to 3-4 and risk messing up his Right handed swing in the process. Also, a minor quibble with this video: Are they trying to teach him Softball? What's with the underhand tosses? Anyway, on to the meat of the video. Trea uses a bit of a bat wiggle and kick for timing. I like that the bat wiggle stops before the swing and as long as he can keep it working I'd have no issue with him keeping it.

Now, scouting reports note he has a very good eye and his number at NC State bear this out. Now, I've seen Trea multiple times, but I actually haven't looked closely at Pitch recognition issues, focusing on big bucket items like speed, swing and Defense, but consensus among scouting reports I've read seem to peg him as one of the most advanced hitters in the draft. His power might max out as average, but he'll have elite speed and an average to above average hit tool to allow him to utilize his speed. Next we'll look at Defense.

Defense isn't sexy, so there aren't many videos to show on it. Suffice it to say that Turner has the arm to play Third, an easy plus arm. The speed and footwork for Short (He's fairly new to short, but he's capable of showstopping plays like the two below courtesy of NC State Athletics. You'll notice he makes the second play on the opposite side of Second.) and he could ultimately handle pretty much any spot on the field. There are no scouting concerns about him staying at Short as a pro, and even a move to Third would not be an issue given his arm.

Lastly, the big money reason he'll be a top pick: speed. Burner Turner is a blast to watch when his legs are healthy and even in the pros only a handful of players have his speed. There aren't a ton of videos of Trea running (seems we've found another significant hole in the Internet), but here are 3, kinda. The first is legit of him running to first, courtesy of Baseball America. Feel free to do your own timing of him.

The second is a video in which Trea explains his technique. There are a few steals featured in there, plus what he looks for. Again, courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Lastly a goofy ad I'm mostly including for the goofiness. Again, courtesy of NC State Athletics.

Turner is one of my favorite players in this draft (though I'll admit some potential bias from having seen him in person many times). His risks would be that he may never have much power (not a huge issue for a middle infielder, though some teams may not want to spend a high pick on a guy without much power), his hit tool could end up average to even slightly below average, though I don't see this as much of a risk (if anything his hit tool may stand a better chance of developing into a plus tool) and, well, he isn't an elite Pitcher. This draft is the deepest in Pitching in a long time including several potential Aces. I'm working on my Top 30 now and I'm not sure there will even be 6 Starting Pitchers in that list. Many other lists I've seen look similar right now. I've also spoken to a few Prospect writers about their lists, and the consensus seems consistent: Pitching kinda sucks in the system right now. That makes it somewhat unlikely the Phillies go for another First Round Shortstop. That said, if the draft shakes out such that the Pitchers they like go 1-6, seeing a position player coming to Philly isn't out of the question and you can't do much better than Trea "Burner" Turner.

Tool box check:
Power: Below average, but should be enough to keep Pitchers from just pounding the strike zone without worrying about giving up an XBH.
Hit: A tick above average, but with potential to be a plus tool.
Arm: Above average, maybe plus. Plenty for 3rd or Center Field, though it's unlikely he'd get moved off SS, because...
Defense: This has potential to be a plus tool to even elite. He has the speed, instincts and arm for the position. The only reason for a team to move him off this spot is if they already have an Andrelton Simmons, Francisco Lindor, Jurickson Profar level Defender at that spot. Even then, tough call.
Speed: This is absolutely an elite tool. Fastest guy in the draft. If I had to comp him to someone (and I hate comps usually), he's most like Jose Reyes, though I like his Defense more.