Scouting Yankees Prospect #29: Nik Turley

Turley has a solid big league three-pitch mix

The Yankees drafted Nik Turley in the 50th round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Harvard-Westlake High School in California. Always considered a better prospect than the round he was drafted in, he was in the midst of a breakout season in 2011 when a broken hand abruptly ended his coming out party.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Nik Turley
Position: Pitcher
DOB: September 11, 1989
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 215
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

"I feel like I was doing really well until I got hurt," he said. "I didn't have the best couple of outings in Tampa, but I don't feel like they went terribly. I actually felt happy with the first one. I did a few things and they scored a couple of runs but I felt good about it."

He went a combined 4-6 with a 2.81 ERA between the two A-ball levels, including posting a fantastic 2.51 ERA and striking out a batter per inning pitched with the Charleston RiverDogs before his brief two-game trial in Tampa and subsequent season-ending injury.

"I had really good command of the zone [in Charleston]," he said. " I could throw my fastball wherever I wanted and my offspeed pitches were effective as well.

"My changeup had a lot of depth to it. It would bottom out pretty good. I was really attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count, and just go from there."

Not exactly a power pitcher despite his bigger frame, Turley has learned to keep hitters off-balance with a solid three-pitch big league repertoire and he surely showcased that during his time in the South Atlantic League last season.

"I can't say enough about Turley," Charleston pitching coach Carlos Chantres said. "He worked hard and he's a left-handed guy that knows how to pitch. He's 20-21 years old but he knows how to pitch already; what to throw, he knows what to do.

"He was 'Steady Eddy' the whole year. It's a shame that he got hurt in Tampa. He was really, really good. He'd throw five or six innings every time out and just keep the ball down in the zone. These hitters really looked foolish off of him, especially when he'd throw that changeup in any count and for strikes."

He was not only consistent game in and game out for Charleston, he was dominant at times and earned a promotion to high-A Tampa in the beginning of July but suffered a broken bone in his pitching hand in just his second start in the Florida State League.

"The kid squared it up pretty good," Turley recounted the injury. "I just didn't have too much time to react. I didn't even have time to finish the pitch. The leg that I push off of didn't even land yet.

"I threw [the pitch], my glove hand was down back close to my body, and the ball came right at my face. I tried to catch. I just threw both of my hands up in front of my face so it didn't hit me in the head. It was just kind of self preservation.

"It would have hit me in the face. It went right at my head. That's what happens when you leave the ball down the middle I guess."

Completely healed now and ready for the start of the 2012 season, and now showing an ability to make the necessary adjustments going forward, Turley is looking to keep up his development in the coming years.

"I was commanding all three of my pitches in Charleston before I got hurt and I've really learned how to pitch. I feel confident now that I'll make those adjustments and get better," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2011

Tampa

0-0

0

7.1

11

1

5

6.14

2011

Charleston

4-6

0

82.1

70

21

82

2.51

2010

Staten Island

4-4

0

61.0

57

29

47

4.38

2010

GCL Yankees

0-2

0

10.0

11

2

9

0.84

2009

GCL Yankees

2-3

0

54.1

45

23

46

2.82

2008

GCL Yankees

2-1

0

8.0

6

0

13

1.13



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Turley throws a big league average fastball velocity-wise, sitting mostly in the 88-92 mph range, but what he lacks in overall plus velocity he more than makes for with great command with a great downhill plane. He uses his 6-foot-6 frame and great extension to his advantage by throwing darts downhill in the lower-half of the strike zone and he pitches very effectively on the inner-half of the plate with a little bit extra power when he needs it. There is some thought that he could also be a late bloomer who could add a tick or two given his taller frame.

Other Pitches. Turley has made the biggest strides in developing his once non-existent changeup into an above average big league offering that he can command consistently well. He will throw it in any count and in any situation, and when he misses with it he misses down in the zone. His curveball isn't quite the same effective pitch as his changeup because the command of it isn't nearly as consistent, but it is getting really close. Sitting in the mid-70s with his curveball, it is a good strikeout pitch because it starts out really high given his taller frame and dives down over the plate. An average to above average pitch right now, a little bit better command of it in the zone and it could develop into a plus offering.

Pitching. Turley's game isn't overpowering batters but rather spotting three average to above average pitches in the lower-half of the zone and keeping hitters off-balance. Quite athletic for a bigger pitcher, he is a bit of rarity in that he has consistent and clean pitching mechanics, fields his position well, and has a good pickoff move at first base, all of which are traits that usually elude taller pitchers. A tireless worker, his progress is a credit to all of the extra work he has put in behind the scenes. The lone negative in his game is keeping his focus when things do unrattle for him but he has gotten a lot better in that regard in recent years.

Projection. Even without adding some extra power to his fastball, Turley has the basic foundation in place to project as a potential middle to back-end starting pitcher at the big league level; three pitch mix, command, athleticism, and good defensive abilities. At his size, however, there is still the small glimmer of hope that he could add some power to his fastball in the coming years as he continues to fill out. Should that happen he might develop into an Andy Pettitte type whose place is a bonafide middle rotation pitcher but one who could pitch better than that on any given day. He certainly has the winning intangibles and great pickoff move to have that kind of potential.

ETA. 2014. Turley will pick up right where he left off, starting in the Tampa rotation in 2012. If he pitches like he did in Charleston last season a promotion to Double-A later in the year is not out of the question.

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