We're really just using this as an excuse to talk about Trea Turner again and to point you to Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo's interview with ESPN.com's Buster Olney yesterday on the Baseball Tonight podcast.
Turner, 22, is once again turning (sorry) heads with his speed and his defense in Spring Training as he battles with the other shortstops in camp with the Nationals to determine who is going to win the Opening Day job.
Through eight games, the 2014 San Diego Padres' first round pick, acquired by the Nationals last winter (and officially included as a PTBNL in June), is 1 for 11 with a home run, three walks and two stolen bases.
Last season, between Double-A in the Padres and Nationals' systems and Triple-A with the Nationals, the right-handed hitting and throwing shortstop put up a combined .322/.370/.458 line with 24 doubles, seven triples, eight homers and 29 stolen bases over 116 games and 500 plate appearances then moved up to the majors where he started slowly, 0 for 9 in the first few weeks, but finished strong (9 for 31, .290/.371/.419 over his final 35 PAs).
The question everyone has wanted to ask and Olney did ask: How, exactly, did Rizzo get both Turner and Joe Ross out of the three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and Padres?
"It all goes back to extremely dedicated, well-placed, professional scouting," Rizzo explained.
"We did a good job of not only knowing the backgrounds of the players pre-draft and during their short professional careers.
"We had put a list of prospects together for the Padres that we wanted to attack if there was a trade possibility in place and when they showed interest in Steven Souza, who was the [organizational] Player of the Year, we made it clear that we had to have these two players in the trade or we weren't interested in moving Souza, so it's a combination of the front office recognizing and getting involved [in] a three-team trade later in the process and identifying the right guys and making the right trade."
Olney noted that Syracuse Chiefs' skipper Billy Gardner, Jr., who managed Turner at Triple-A after the trade was completed, told him that he was was impressed with the young infielder's ability to handle an odd situation last summer, when he played with the Padres' Double-A affiliate even after he was widely reported to be the Player to Be Named Later but couldn't yet be dealt under the since-changed rules regarding the trading of draft picks in the first year after they signed.
Rizzo was impressed as well.
"It was a real telling sign of the maturity of this kid," Rizzo said. "He stayed focused in a very, very difficult place to stay focused. There was quite a lot of circus around him with the trade and with the rules and then the rule change and him playing for an organization that he's not going to be with throughout the process -- I might add the Padres did a terrific job with giving him the opportunity and development time for a player they knew wasn't that theirs, so credit to those guys for being very professional about it -- but this kid took every opportunity he had. He really relished the challenge of the situation and I think it really speaks to his maturity level and the ability he has to focus in some stressful times."
And about that speed? Rizzo offered the following scouting report in scout speak.
"He's got not only extremely quick acceleration, he's got the extreme speed and the extreme bursts. So those are two types of types of speed that really, in my mind, are different.
"There are guys that can go first-to-third, home-to-third, but it takes them a while to get going. This kid is up to max speed probably after a stride and a half as a base stealer.
"He's got the explosive speed of some of the great base stealers and he's got the longer speed of like the Devon Whites of the world that can really stretch out and stride out and go first-to-third, second-to-home and first-to-third and it's one of those fun things to watch. We call it dynamic speed. It's game-changing speed.
"On the scale of 20-to-80 he's an 80 runner and it's playable. It's a fun thing to watch when he gets on base or hits a ball into the gap."
So... when will he be up playing short for the Nationals?
"He ran through the minor leagues fairly quickly with the Padres and with us," Rizzo said.
"He's got one full season of minor league baseball under his belt. He's a guy that could use some more at bats in the minor leagues.
"We feel that he was a fairly polished commodity out of college as a college draft [pick]. We liked him a lot. We thought that he would be a quick-to-the-big-leagues guy there and he hasn't disappointed as a professional.
"He's done it at every level, he's succeeded at every level and moved up and we wanted to give him a taste in the big leagues last year and see where he fit with us in 2016, knowing that it was going to be a transition season for him, but he's playing well here in Spring Training.
"He's just trying to fit in with the ballclub, get his reps in and we'll see where it goes here, but he's a guy that's not far away from the big leagues and a guy that we think that will impact the club when he gets here."
Check out the rest of Mike Rizzo's appearance with Buster Olney on the Baseball Tonight podcast through the link below:
Podcast. https://t.co/QlrpmFR0aP Nats GM Mike Rizzo on Turner, Strasburg, Harper; Bob Nightengale on Weaver, Cueto struggles; Carlos Gomez.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 10, 2016