Detroit Tigers Dissector: No. 1 Draft Pick Jacob Turner

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IJune 12, 2009

Welcome to Rudy Dominick & Johnny Lawrence's sixth weekly installment of Detroit Tigers information and analysis. 

Each Thursday, we will delve into all things Tigers. Read and digest, or skim and spit out our insightful banter.

Keep An Eye On

Zach Simons, Relief Pitcher—Erie Seawolves (AA)

(Last 10 Games)

1-1, 18.2 IP, 7 H, 9 BB, 18 K, 0.96 ERA.

Drive-By Argument: Should Detroit Have Drafted A Left-Handed Pitcher Instead Of RHP Justin Turner?

LAWRENCE:  General Manager Dave Dombrowski selected Missouri high school right-hander Jacob Turner with the ninth-overall pick.

The Tigers' recent draft philosophy states to snag high-ceiling power arms in the early rounds.  This injection of flamethrowers into the organization has effectively transformed the look of the staff.

But the lack of quality lefties creates a diversification issue.  Detroit began 2009 with an all right-handed rotation.

Since 2002, Andrew Miller has been the only left-handed pitcher selected by Detroit within the first three rounds.  Miller's greatest value remains what he reeled in (Miguel Cabrera) and the need for southpaws is more pressing than ever, especially if Dontrelle Willis and Bobby Seay continue to fade.

With such a high draft slot, the Tigers should have passed on Turner to pick one of the four lefty pitchers taken in Round One.

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DOMINICK:  Jacob Turner fits the mold of Detroit Tiger pitchers.  At 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, his stature and high velocity resembles current hurlers Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Ryan Perry.

Dombrowski appropriately based his selection upon talent, not throwing hand.  While starting left-handed pitchers are desired, Casey Crosby lurks in the minors with a major league roster spot in his sights.  Crosby, 20, currently pitches for West Michigan (A) and through 47.2 innings, here's his stat line:  4-0, 2.83 ERA, and 56 strikeouts.

Beyond Turner and Crosby, Detroit added lefties Andrew Oliver in Round Two and Austin Wood in Round Five, so they did not ignore the issue.

Dombrowski's successful strategy has been to pick the best pitcher available, and according to 11-year MLB veteran Todd Worrell, Turner's high school pitching coach, Turner is the “complete package.”

Prospects are unknown commodities until proven on a major league level; Detroit should go with the player they feel possesses the most potential.

Jacob Turner: Detroit's Next Successful Fireballer?

At age 15, first-round pick Jacob Turner had already hit 92 mph on the radar gun.

By 18, he compiled a 23-5 high school record, threw a one-hit, eighteen strikeout gem, and earned a spot on the United States under-18 team.

Baseball America considered him the top high school right-hander before the draft and he has benefited from the guidance of three former MLB players, Andy Benes, Mike Matheny, and Todd Worrell.

Flipping the page to adulthood, Turner received a baseball scholarship from University of North Carolina before Detroit selected him No. 9 overall.

The physically-gifted hurler out of Westminster Christian Academy in Missouri credits his arm strength to his avoidance of breaking balls in high school.  "I'd never heard anything good come out of throwing a curve (too young)," he said. "I think it's paid off."

Each year, the velocity on his fastball picked up some sizzle, ascending from 90 mph as a sophomore, to 93 mph as a junior, and up to 96 mph as a senior. 

Recently, he has added a changeup and curveball to his repertoire that are at times considered plus pitches.  Turner also grew an inch last year, so his physical growth may not be finished.

Vice President of Amateur Scouting, David Chadd, believes the young hurler fits the Detroit Tiger bill, "We have a profile in this organization and a philosophy, and Jacob certainly meets that profile."

As noted in our Drive-By Argument, Turner's physical makeup shares a likeness with Verlander, Porcello, and Perry.  Similar poise, control, and physical conditioning place his expectations somewhere in between these three. 

Finishing the season with 113 strikeouts, 13 walks and a 0.60 ERA in 58.1 innings, Turner is not far from where the aforementioned stood rising from the amateur ranks.

Adviser Scott Boras stands as the only barrier between Turner and Detroit.  He reportedly wants the Tigers to match the MLB record $7-million guarantee given to a high school pitcher (Rick Porcello, 2007). 

Fortunately, the Tigers were informed of his demands prior to the draft—all signs point to Turner's world-class arm joining the organization at some point this summer.

Favorable Matchups

June 13: DET Miguel Cabrera vs. PIT Zach Duke (.556, 5-for-9, 4 2B).

June 12-14: DET Magglio Ordonez vs. PIT Pitching (.404, 18-for-44, 5 K).

June 12-14: DET Gerald Laird vs. PIT Pitching (.375, 3-for-8, 1 HR).

For comments or questions, contact us at: johnnyandrudy@gmail.com.

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