clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Washington Nationals' Trea Turner plan preparing him for his future in D.C.

New, comments

The Washington Nationals had a plan for Trea Turner when they called him up, believe it or not, and it's all preparing him for a role as an everyday player in the nation's capital in the near future. Turner made his second start in the majors on Sunday.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Trea Turner signed an above-slot $2.9M bonus not long after San Diego drafted him 13th overall in June of 2014, and got 69 games and 321 plate appearances in at Low and High-A in the Padres' system, over which the then-21-year-old infielder put up a .323/.406/.448 line with 16 doubles, two triples, five home runs and 23 stolen bases in 27 attempts, picking up where he left off as a junior at North Carolina State, where he put up a .321/.418/.516 line with 12 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 26 steals in 30 attempts before he was made a first-round pick.

"His minor league season would have been over very soon anyway, and to give him some opportunity at the big league level will do nothing but help him." -Matt Williams on Trea Turner coming off the bench in the majors

Turner played nine games in the Arizona Fall League to end the year, going 14 for 35 (.400/.417/.400) as a part-time player in the so-called "finishing school" for the game's top prospects.

Baseball America named Turner the top infield and no.2 overall prospect in the Padres' system in January 2015, one month after he was widely-acknowledged to be the PTBNL included by San Diego in their three-team, eleven-player "Wil Myers deal" with Tampa Bay and Washington, though, under the rules at the time, which have since changed, he couldn't be included in the trade until a year after he signed out of the draft.

Turner, who turned 22 on June 30th, played 58 games at Double-A in the Padres' organization, putting up a .322/.385/.471 line with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 11 steals in 15 attempts over 227 plate appearances, then played another 10 games at Double-A in the Nats' system (.359/.366/.513 in 41 PAs) after the trade went through and before he was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse.

In 48 games with the Nats' top minor league affliate, Turner went 59 for 188 (.314/.353/.431) with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs and 14 steals in 16 attempts before the Nationals called him up to the majors.

Turner debuted on August 21st, but played sparingly over the first few weeks of his major league career, starting just once in August.

"Trea Turner has had plenty of at bats this year... we felt that it was important for him to get to the big leagues because these are going to his teammates in the near future." -Mike Rizzo on Trea Turner on MLB Network Radio

With Ian Desmond picking it up after a slow start, Yunel Escobar healthy and producing and and Anthony Rendon finally back from the DL, Nat's skipper Matt Williams explained in an MLB Network Radio interview in August, Turner wasn't likely to get consecutive starts.

So why call him up and have him pinch hit, run or come on as a defensive replacement rather than keep him at Triple-A where he could play every day?

"Trea's here because, one, he can get some experience," Williams said. "He's done everything at every level that he needs to do. Again, he's a new player for us. We want him to get to know everybody, because hopefully in the future he's a valuable piece of our direction and our team."

"His minor league season would have been over very soon anyway," Williams continued, "and to give him some opportunity at the big league level will do nothing but help him."

Still, when he remained in a bench role, the questions persisted. Between September 1st and 18th, he appeared in just 11 games, going 2 for 3 in four plate appearances, with pinch running and hitting opportunities over that stretch, but no starts.

On Sunday, however, with Danny Espinosa nursing a hamstring injury and Anthony Rendon battling the flu, Turner got another start in the series finale with the Miami Marlins.

Before the game, Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo, in an appearance on MLB Network Radio, talked again about the way Turner was being used at the major league level when he was asked once again why they brought him up just to use him off the bench?

"Well, the thought process there was simple," Rizzo explained. "We had a plan for Trea. Don't forget, this is his first full professional season. Trea Turner has had plenty of at bats this year. He's played plenty of baseball. We felt that it was important for him to get to the big leagues because these are going to be his teammates in the near future and for a long time after that.

"We wanted him to get a feel for the big leagues and a taste for the big leagues, always knowing in our minds that he's played plenty of baseball for his first full professional season. He's going to get some extra time in the Arizona Fall League this year so he'll make up for any at bats that he has missed for the two weeks he could have been in Triple-A.

"But I thought it was more important for him to get a taste of the big leagues, to meet the teammates that he's going to play with in the near future and I wasn't as concerned about the reps and the at bats because he has played plenty, believe me, in his first professional season and I think that he'll be the better for it being in the big leagues."

He's also getting the experience of a stretch run, contributing to the Nationals' fight to stay alive as long as possible, then he'll join Wilmer Difo (who debuted in the majors this season), Drew Ward, Spencer Kieboom and pitchers, Dakota Bacus, Abel De Los Santos (who made his major league debut this year as well), Nick Lee and John Simms for a second run in the Arizona Fall League.

In the Nationals' win on Sunday, Turner went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored, coming around on Escobar's base-clearing double that put the Nationals up 10-2.

He's now 3 for 15 with two walks and 3 Ks in seventeen games.