COCOA, FL- I was given an unexpected treat on Monday as Westminster (Mo.) HS righty Jacob Turner made a start in my home state to begin his season. We have him ranked as the #5 high school prospect in the country, which projects him firmly in the first round based on talent.
The game was originally scheduled for 10 AM, but the rains pushed it all the way back to 4 PM. While there were still some 40-50 scouts in attendance (including six scouting directors), the game would have been even more of a madhouse had it started as planned six hours earlier.
I’d never seen Turner myself, but he’s no stranger to the Perfect Game staff. Turner pitched at our National Showcase in Minnesota last year and was also at the Aflac All-American game.
I was hoping that Westminster would match up against a Florida powerhouse so I could see Turner throw to a lineup that was used to hitting 90 MPH fastballs. Instead they played York Institute from Tennessee and their lineup was clearly overwhelmed.
Turner was dominating in his five innings of work, yielding no hits, one walk, one hit-batter, and 12 Ks. He threw 90-94 MPH with lots of run (60/65 movement in my scout book) for pretty much the entire outing. Turner never needed his change-up and threw only four or five curveballs (77-79 MPH). With a three-quarter slot, Turner’s unable to get a 12-6 break but the two-plane action is sharp enough that I can project Turner’s curveball as a solid-average 55 pitch in the future.
Turner is not a plus athlete (by MLB pitcher standards) to me, but I can put him around average. His delivery is fairly balanced and he does okay to incorporate his larger core and leg muscles. He repeats and has a good finish. Turner’s arm-action is quick. I would not use the term “effortless”, but it’s okay.
Physically, he’s 6-4, 205, with a medium-sized frame. Turner is a little fleshy around the hips and has relatively narrow shoulders. His legs are sturdy and his chest is shallow. I don’t consider his body projectable in the truest sense because he doesn’t have the type of frame that can hold considerably more muscle mass without getting stiff. I can see him at a comfortable 215-220 at age24. He’ll probably have more weight around the hips, which is okay for a pitcher.
Our reports on Turner at the PG National and Aflac are almost identical. He threw with the same velocities and the same three-quarter slot at those events.
Being that this is the first start for a cold-weather pitcher, I would predict he throws harder and better in late May.
Turner is still looking like a first-round pick and I would guess from the middle to the end of the round. It was difficult to gauge his command today because he only needed to throw near the plate to get this lineup out. (Five or six hitters tried to bunt their way on and still couldn’t make fair contact.) With the movement on his fastball, he has some leeway in the command department, but he’ll have to show better curveball command in the coming years to pitch at the big league level. Turner will at some point have to develop a third pitch as well. I only saw the change in warm-ups and it was crude.
If I’m filling out a report for a major league team, I’d project him as a #3 starter for a World Series contender who should arrive on a 4-5 year plan.
Turner has signed with the University of North Carolina.