Most news outlets have been touting the Blue Jays’ reacquisition of catcher Dioner Navarro from the Chicago White Sox and focus almost exclusively on the major league side of the trade. Let’s face it, most of you out there know who Dioner Navarro is and what he brought to the Blue Jays when he was in town for two years. Now it’s time to find out more about the player the Blue Jays sent back to Chicago: lefty Colton Turner.
Turner has had an up and down career in the minor leagues for the Blue Jays since being selected in the 21st round of the 2012 draft out of Texas State Univeristy. Turner turned heads with an exceptional draft year in Vancouver, posting a 1.57 ERA and striking out 29 batters in 34 1/3 innings. The following year, 2013, was the first time I saw him after he had been promoted to Lansing and was very strong but had yet to become the pitcher he is today. He was throwing his fastball in the 85-87 mph range at the end of 2013 when I first saw him with a slider and changeup that were in the mid-70s. I wasn’t impressed at the time.
Turner missed all of the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery (which could explain the low velocity in 2013) and came back in 2015 with the Lansing Lugnuts. While he struggled to regain his command throughout the year and was hit hard in a brief stint in Dunedin, the Turner that I saw was a completely different pitcher. He was throwing 90-92 mph with an 83 mph slider and got some excellent action on his pitches.
This season, Turner has thrown 31 2/3 innings in Dunedin and has been almost unhittable, allowing just 19 hits and nine walks for a 0.88 WHIP and 0.57 ERA, striking out 47 before his promotion to New Hampshire. His adjustment to Double-A has been rocky as he’s walked eight batters in 10 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts, giving up six runs for a 5.23 ERA and 1.93 WHIP.
Turner, at 25, definitely should be in Double-A and can still make an impact as a lefty specialist on a big league roster in the next couple of years. That said, this year, he has reverse splits as lefties are hitting him much harder than righties (.290/.348/.355 against lefties, .159/.250/.205 against righties) while last year, his splits were more even although he still pitched righties better than lefties.
If Turner is going to make the bigs with Chicago (or anyone else), he’s going to need to find a way to be more effective against lefties, but with fringe-average velocity (and from the left side with his movement, that’s fine) and just 10 1/3 innings of Double-A under his belt at 25, Turner still has a long way to go before this trade can pay off for the White Sox.
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