FORT WAYNE – Trea Turner made one thing clear when picked Thursday by San Diego in the first-year player draft.
He doesn’t want to sit around all summer. The question is where Turner, picked with the 13th choice in the first round, fits in the Padres’ farm system.
According to the team’s official website, Turner, if signed, will spend a few days at extended spring training and then join short-season Eugene, which begins play Friday.
But while Turner may not open his professional career in low-A Fort Wayne, it’s not difficult to imagine him at Parkview Field before the season’s up.
That would follow exactly what they’ve done in the past, TinCaps President Mike Nutter said. We hope to see him, that’s for darn sure.
Turner, a shortstop from North Carolina State, could be part of a trend in which a college position player selected in the first round spends time as a TinCap the summer he was drafted.
That’s happened three years in a row, with Hunter Renfroe in 2013, Travis Jankowski in 2012 and Cory Spangenberg in 2011.
Over the previous 10 drafts, San Diego made 26 first-round picks. Two of them did not sign. Of the remaining 24, eight appeared in Fort Wayne the same year they were drafted.
I think these numbers are awesome, Nutter said. Eight out of 24 makes sense to me, seems about right.
Nutter said that when his franchise played at Memorial Stadium, first-round picks often did not pass through at all – their first year, or any other.
It drove me nuts, Nutter said. The game changed when we moved downtown to an unbelievable facility. We’ve been a team before that gets skipped by people. You always want them to at least pass through for a little while.
It takes the right set of circumstances for a fresh first-rounder to play at Fort Wayne.
Pitchers, typically coming off a full college or high school season, may have thrown too many innings to do much later in the summer.
And picks from prep school often must break in against lesser competition.
I’d put it in the no-chance category that you’d ever see a high school guy come up in the Midwest League and play right away, Nutter said.
Turner fits the right criteria and has similarities to Renfroe. Each hit well over .300 in a third year of college.
Renfroe got in 25 games at Eugene last year before joining the TinCaps on Aug. 10.
So, let the Turner watch begin. Will that be his path?
People will come up to me at games starting this homestand (tonight) and say, When you are getting the No. 1 pick, man?’ Nutter said. Turner, by all accounts, is the best or second-best shortstop in the draft. Speed and everything is unbelievable.
The TinCaps can generate some marketing around touted prospects like him.
Fans say, Why do we get the 16th-rounder (right away) and not the first?’ Nutter said. Everybody wants to see the first-rounder.
After that guy gets here, on Sunday games when we do autograph stuff, the lines are crazy. There is always a good buzz. We’re very confident we’ll see (Turner) at some point in Fort Wayne, either this year or that he would open camp with us next year.