Trea Turner's odd version of baseball purgatory will be over in a week. Turner, whose inclusion as the player to be named later in a three-team trade last December was perhaps the worst-kept PTBNL secret ever, and cannot officially change clubs until one year after he signed, so the Washington Nationals' shortstop of the future has been toiling away in San Diego's minor league system.
The Padres, to their credit, have done nothing to curtail his development. Even after a recent mini-slump, Turner is slashing .325/.393/.480 for San Antonio in the Texas League. He's got 10 steals, five homers, and 30 RBI in 52 games, and he's made just five errors. Watching him in college, I wondered if he had the arm strength to stay at shortstop at the next level, but scouts who know far more about these things than I do project him to be a solid average defender at the demanding position once he reaches The Show.
So the question now is: how soon will he reach the bigs? With the return from injury of Anthony Rendon, who won a Silver Slugger award a year ago and finished fifth in MVP balloting, to go with Ian Desmond, Yunel Escobar, and Danny Espinosa, the Nats already have a glut of infielders. But while Escobar (.376 OBP) and Espinosa (.360) have been productive out-avoiders in Matt Williams' lineup, Desmond, a free agent to be, has struggled to the tune of a .242/.287/.372 line. Desmond has also committed a National League-high 13 errors and perhaps fell out of favor with management when he rejected a contract extension in the offseason.
It's not inconceivable that Desmond is moved for pitching help—Stephen Strasburg has struggled (6.55 ERA) and he and Doug Fister are both on the DL—with Turner taking over in a pennant race. Top prospects often make the jump from AA, and the Nats have Escobar, a former shortstop who has mostly played third this year, should Turner prove not ready.
Because you know you were wondering: the Nats do not face the White Sox in interleague play this year, so the Carlos Rodon-Trea Turner matchup will have to wait.
Let's have us a gander at Turner's Pack mates from the 2014 draft class:
Bret Austin has slumped mightily after starting the season swell at low-A Kannapolis. A .192/.280/.288 line over the last 28 days has brought his overall numbers down to .242/.342/.391. He's getting a bit old for low-A ball and really needs to jump a level soon to be considered a prospect. He has thrown out 35% of runners trying to steal, which is solid.
Logan Jernigan apparently does not take kindly to long bus rides. He retired after posting a 5.59 ERA in 11 appearances for the Padres' low-A ball club last summer.
Patrick Peterson, the lefty twin, has a 4-4 mark to go with a 4.47 ERA after nine starts for Clinton in the Midwest League. His peripherals are pretty good: 8.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, one homer allowed in 44.1 IP, so maybe that inflated ERA is a product of some bad luck.
Twin bro Eric Peterson is pitching out the pen, also in the Midwest League, where he sports a 2.70 ERA through 13 appearances. The righty has posted a stellar 10.8 K/9 mark to go with four saves.
Andrew Woeck was drafted despite needing Tommy John surgery in the spring of 14 and has yet to make his pro debut.
Rodon, of course, needed just 11 minor league appearances en route to The Show, where he has posted a nifty 3.12 ERA so far despite some serious control issues (22 walks in 34.2 IP).