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Future Nat Trea Turner ranks third as MLB Pipeline releases their Top 30 Padres prospects

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On Friday, MLB Pipeline released their list of the top thirty prospects in the San Diego Padres system. Future Nat Trea Turner, expected to be the player to be named later to complete December's three way trade between the Nationals, Padres, and Rays, ranked third on their list.

The player to be named later in the Steven Souza trade slotted in at number three on MLB Pipeline's top thirty Padres prospects list.
The player to be named later in the Steven Souza trade slotted in at number three on MLB Pipeline's top thirty Padres prospects list.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The whole Trea Turner situation is weird.  Everyone knows that he's going to be the player to be named later in the three way deal that sent Steven Souza to Tampa Bay and Wil Myers to San Diego, but he's stuck in the San Diego farm system until June.  As such, Turner's contract is technically not the property of the Washington Nationals, so Turner continues to be evaluated with the Padres on prospect lists.  On Friday, MLB Pipeline released their list of the top thirty players in the Padres' system:

MLB Pipeline ranked Turner third in the San Diego system behind Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges.  Let's take a look at what they had to say about the future Nats middle infield prospect:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 75 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Turner led NCAA Division I with 57 steals as a freshman, helped North Carolina State to its first College World Series berth in 45 years as a sophomore and became the highest-drafted position player in Wolfpack history as a junior in 2014. Selected 14th overall and signed for $2.9 million, he played well in his pro debut and in the Arizona Fall League. He won't reach the Majors with the Padres, however, because it's an open secret he's headed to the Nationals in June as the player to be named later in the three-team trade that brought Wil Myers to San Diego.

Turner's signature tool is his well above-average speed, which earns some 80 grades from evaluators. He could be a dynamic leadoff man because he's a huge basestealing threat with the patience to draw walks and enough pop to hit maybe 10 homers per season. To reach his offensive ceiling, he'll need to tone down his swing and his approach, which can get overly aggressive when he focuses too much on trying to hit for power.

Unlike the vast majority of college shortstops, Turner will be able to stay at the position as a pro. He has plenty of quickness and solid arm strength, though he needs to improve his consistency. He won't be a Gold Glover but he can be a steady defender.

The reason that the 21-year-old prospect remains in the Padres system is that he's ineligible to be traded until one year from the time he was drafted.  He was the Padres first pick (13th overall) in the 2014 draft out of N.C. State.  Turner spent just nine games in rookie ball last season before moving up to Low A ball.  Between the Padres Low A (Eugene) and A ball affiliates, he hit .323/.406/.448 in 321 plate appearances.  He tallied 16 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 homers and also went 23 for 27 in stolen base attempts.

A three year starter in college, Turner is pretty polished for a first year pro.  He should move fairly quickly through the system.  He's expected to begin the 2015 season at Lake Elsinore, the Padres High A affiliate.  Barring any setbacks, the deal should be completed in June and he'll likely begin his career with the Nats in either Potomac or Harrisburg.  My guess is that the Nats start him in Potomac unless he's absolutely dominating A+ ball before the trade.  The hope is that he can reach Harrisburg for a brief stint in August and prove he belongs there to begin 2016.

When the deal happened, I had mixed emotions about it.  I'm really excited about Turner and Ross, but the acquisition of Turner (combined with the later addition of a decent and cheap stopgap in Yunel Escobar) probably signified that Ian Desmond's time in D.C. is coming to an end.  There's nothing carved in stone, but I don't think that Rizzo would have given up big league quality talent like Steven Souza and Tyler Clippard to acquire those two players if he felt like there was a good chance they'll be able to retain Desmond.

That said, let's not harp on Desmond's future with the club in this article.  Let's focus on the prospect that the Nationals are waiting to acquire and break down what we see from his scouting report.

Here's a quick reminder on the scouting grades from MLB Pipeline:

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 35 | Run: 75 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Here's how Fangraphs rates his current/future tools:

Hit GamePower RawPower Speed Field Throws Future Value
20 / 50 20 / 40 40 / 40 70 / 70 50 / 55 55 / 55 50

MLB Pipeline seems a bit more bullish on Turner's future as a hitter while Fangraphs seems to be just a tad higher on him as a fielder.  Either way, both seem to think that he'll develop into an average to slightly above average hitter.  Neither seems convinced that he's going to develop much power, but I've seen a handful of places that think he could turn into a guy who at least challenges double digits in home runs.  Everyone seems to love his speed, as Turner has gotten a few 80 grades from prospect mavens in that area.

Outside of the simple grades, those of you who have read anything that I've written at Federal Baseball over the past six years know that I loved seeing this in MLB Pipeline's analysis:

He could be a dynamic leadoff man because he's a huge basestealing threat with the patience to draw walks and enough pop to hit maybe 10 homers per season.

You never really can tell how much stock is put into a player's plate discipline when a scouting report lists their "Hit" tool.  When we're talking about a player with the rest of Turner's skill set (below average power, outstanding speed), I'll gladly take a .270 hitter who draws 60 walks in 600 PA over a .300 hitter who draws 30 walks in those same 600 PA*.  Well... you know that I'd rather have that from a player with any skill set, but it becomes a bit more exaggerated when the player is much more reliant on his speed than his power.

*Of course, Player A has a .370 OBP... Player B has a .350 OBP

It seems the Nats did well in that trade to get a cheap, controllable prospect who should provide league average defense at shortstop while eventually slotting in as the leadoff man.  Remember, though... That's only part of the return.  They got a nice young pitching prospect in Joe Ross as well.  We'll take a look at him some time soon.