Stuart Turner had a pretty busy year in 2012. A junior at Ole Miss, Turner appeared in 62 games for the Rebels, posting a triple slash of .374/.444/.518 and homering five times, as the team’s starting catcher. After his collegiate season ended in May 2013, Turner had been drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third-round of the draft. He was immediately sent packing to Elizabethton of the Appalachian Rookie League, where he appeared in 34 games and posted a triple slash of .272/.345/.384 with three home runs. He then received a single-game call-up to AA New Britain, where he went two-for-four serving as the team’s designated hitter. A busy year indeed.
Turner, a 22-year-old right-handed catcher from Eunice, Louisiana, has received an invitation to Spring Training this year as a non-roster invitee — the youngest of four such non-roster invitee catchers that will be at Spring Training this year. That’s probably for the best, as Turner is not a proven professional talent yet. Sure, he had a solid offensive game at AA last season, but that was a game at the AA level. Most team officials seem to agree that he’s at least another year away from the big club, pending an outstanding season in 2014, of course.
Defensively, Turner is thought of as an above-average catcher, boasting a powerful and accurate arm, throwing out 32 percent of would-be base-stealers (11 for 34). Turner committed four errors for Elizabethton in 28 games in 2013, which is good for a .987 fielding percentage. To give this some perspective, he’d be among the 15 best catchers in fielding and in the top-10 catchers of CS%.
Turner is going to need some more maturation offensively before he makes the jump to the big leagues. With obvious potential to be a solid, contact-hitting catcher, Turner isn’t the type of guy that strikes out a lot, maybe one in every six at-bats. In the same vein, he’s probably not going to see a slugging percentage north of .400 regularly, which, along with his bat control, has been a critical point for scouts to date. Surely, this is something that the minor league coaches will work with Turner to fix over the next 1-3 seasons.
All in all, Turner seems to have some pretty decent upside and perhaps it won’t be long before he’s manning the backstop for the Minnesota Twins.
Vinny Gala is a baseball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @VinnyGala.