Prospect Profile: Nik Turley

Turley hit his first real hurdle in 2010, when he struggled at times in Staten Island, when he went 4-4 with a 4.38 ERA in 61 innings of work.  Nevertheless, the young southpaw started last season in Charleston and were he seemed to be opening some eyes.  He had a 2.51 ERA in fifteen starts and had a career-high 82 strikeouts, while allowing just 21 walks.  Turley was promoted to Tampa in July, where he made two appearances and was off to a bit of a rocky start before his season was abruptly ended.

During his second start with Tampa, Turley put a pitch down the middle of the plate and the batter sent it right back at him.  With little time to react and a line drive coming for his face, Turley threw his hands up attempting to at least block his face if he couldn’t catch the ball.  While he succeeded at that, he was left with a broken bone in his pitching hand, ending his season.

Turley is now completely healed and has already improved on his short time in Tampa last year.  It is important to note that he has been viewed as a much better prospect than his draft pick would suggest, which is why he lands at 23 on the IIATMS top 30 prospect list.

Scouting:
Despite his size, Turley is not a power pitcher.  He has a fastball that projects as a big league average pitch, generally sitting between 88-92 mph, but he has great command and complements it with two strong off-speed pitches.  There is hope that he may still add a little power, but even if he doesn’t he still has good potential.

Since he is not going to overpower hitters, Turley’s secondary pitches are crucial to his success.  His curveball is a solid strikeout pitch that has good movement.  Of his three pitches, his curve is the one that still lacks some command.  If he can get some better command it would become a plus pitch.  Turley has worked hard on his changeup, turning it into an above average pitch.  He has strong command of the pitch and is willing to throw it in any situation.  If he misses with his changeup, he tends to miss down in the zone.

Obviously, Turley’s great command is what sets him apart.  In fact, Baseball America proclaimed him to have the Best Control in the Yankees organization.  Turley is also quite athletic for a pitcher his size with a nice pickoff move, good mechanics and strong defense.  He has been credited with having a strong work ethic, but needs to continue to improve his in-game focus during tough outings.

Projection:
Turley will likely spend the year in Tampa, but if he throws like he did for the first part of 2011, it would not be surprising to see him promoted to Trenton before the end of the year.  As Brien pointed out, Turley is eligible for the Rule V Draft after this season, but at this point it would be surprising to see him stick on a roster next year.  Turley still needs some more work, but with his strong command, athleticism and three above average pitches, the southpaw could find himself on the backend of a major league rotation in a few years.