There are still more rookies to analyze; today we turn our attention to catcher Stuart Turner of the Cincinnati Reds.
Turner was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round in 2013 from the University of Mississippi. He was drafted for his defensive prowess, though the Twins held out hope that he could at least contribute something positive with the bat eventually. He reached Double-A in 2015 but didn’t hit well and was left off the 40-man roster last fall, unprotected for the Rule 5 draft.
Reds select Stuart Turner, C, Twins: Turner was drafted by the Twins in the third round in 2013 from the University of Mississippi. He has spent the last two seasons with Chattanooga in the Double-A Southern League, hitting .223/.322/.306 in ’15 and .239/.322/.363 in ’16. Although his bat has been disappointing, Turner is an excellent defensive catcher who has thrown out 36% of runners in his career with very low passed ball and error rates behind the plate. He’s a strong guy at 6-2, 220, but the 24-year-old has been unable to tap his raw power very often, leading to projection as a glove-oriented reserve.
Turner saw extensive action for the Reds in spring training and hit the snot out of the ball, batting .382/.488/647 with six walks and six strikeouts in 34 at-bats. With hitting like that along with his glove, it was a no-brainer to bring him north with Devin Mesoraco on the shelf with injuries. Turner has seen action in three games so far, going 1-for-8 with a double.
As noted, Stuart draws praise for his defense but his weak hitting in Double-A kept the Twins from protecting him. Dating back to his college days, Stuart has always shown the size and strength to hit for power, and even when he’s struggled to produce he’s demonstrated some feel for the strike zone as well as a compact swing. He looks like someone who should hit, at least a little, but it just didn’t happen in Minnesota.
Spring training gives some hope that it could happen in Cincinnati. Of course, many times what happens in spring training stays in spring training. If you want a touch of optimism, note that Turner continued to control the strike zone well and make contact in spring camp.
No, he should not be expected to hit .300 and even .260 could be a stretch right now, but if he can manage .240 with occasional pop, that’s enough in combination with his defense to hold a major league job for years.
Sac fly success in his MLB debut
A human interest video but with a brief defensive clip