Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor announced during his postgame remarks following Friday night’s 4-0 win over the San Francisco Giants that left-hander Nik Turley was going to get the start in Sunday’s series finale. Turley, a 27-year-old lefty signed to a minor-league deal in the offseason, is not on the 40-man roster and will be making his big-league debut.
The Twins have not officially confirmed the move, or whatever corresponding move be made to make room on the 40-man roster.
As one can assess from Miller’s tweet, the left-hander is well-traveled. He was taken in the 50th round of the 2008 MLB draft by the Yankees out of Harvard-West Lake High School in Los Angeles — also the alma mater of professional baseballers Brennan Boesch, Max Fried, Lucas Giolito and Josh Satin — and played seven seasons in the team’s system before spending one year with the Giants and the next with the Red Sox. Turley’s signing with the Twins came on Oct. 21, 2016 — two weeks after the new front office regime was hired but two weeks before their introductory press conference.
Turley also spent time in 2016 with the Somerset Patriots of the Independent Atlantic League. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s one of the teams that attracts quite a bit of former big-league talent. Last season alone, former Twin Eric Farris along with Bryan LaHair, Trayvon Robinson, Brad Snyder, Donovan Hand, Evan Meek, Jim Miller and Gus Schlosser — among others — played for the Patriots among those with MLB experience. The Twins signed lefty Buddy Boshers from Somerset after he posted a 1.00 ERA in 54 innings in 2015.
Turley was similarly good for the Patriots in 2016, tossing 49 innings with a 2.02 ERA, 12.1 K/9 and a WHIP of 0.92.
The lefty has bounced back and forth with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester this season. His numbers with the Lookouts are something out of a comic strip: 0.37 ERA (one earned run in 24.1 innings) with 45 strikeouts and seven walks (16.6 K/9). The numbers are a bit more muted with the Red Wings, but still strong: 3.49 ERA, 39-8 K/BB ratio in 28.1 innings (12.4 K/9) and a 1.24 WHIP.
A Chattanooga contact told me he was worried about Turley’s command early in the season, and that he could help the Twins at that moment — but more likely as a reliever. That command has remained fairly solid to this point in the season, however, as he’s walked just 2.5 batters per nine with the Red Wings and 2.6 with the Lookouts.
There is a history of limiting walks in Turley’s career, for what it’s worth. In the Yankees system, Turley was ranked by Baseball America as having the best control following the 2011 season. Despite having a 4.0 BB/9 rate over his minor league career spanning nearly 750 innings, Turley routinely had stretches where he walked in the high-1.0s and low-2.0s early in his career, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest he may be getting back to that.
Turley was BA’s 32nd prospect in the Yankees organization after 2008, 27th after 2011 and 14 after 2012. He also ranked 18th in the Florida State league after 2012 and 12th among Indy League prospects last season.
Turley’s fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range, though a Red Wings source tells me he was 93-94 in his start against Scranton-Wilkes Barre where he fanned 15 batters. His breaking ball is more of a slider, and it’s particularly good.
UPDATE: I got a report from Chris Blessing of BaseballHQ.com as well on Turley. Here’s what he had to say:
“Turley: lefty with some deception. High 3/4s. 90-94. FB gets on hitters quicker than that. Late mvmt. Can get swings and missed up in zone. CB 12-6. Swing and miss pitch. Will struggle consistently getting on top of it but misses way out of the zone. Struggles with release point in Chg. Leaves up when he misses. Below avg offering. Control is an issue, especially against patient teams. High early pitch counts should be expected.”