The Orioles acquired Justin Turner in the Ramon Hernandez trade back in 2008 that sent Hernandez to the Reds for Turner, Ryan Freel and Brandon Waring. He was drafted by Cincinnati as the 204th pick of the 2006 draft and has done relatively well in the minors since then. He has been mentioned as the future replacement for current second baseman Brian Roberts considering he’s 32-years-old and has been battling with injuries lately.
Considering Roberts just signed a four-year, $40 million contract extension in February of last year, it is uncertain exactly what Turner’s role with the Orioles is going to be. His primary position in the minors was second base, but he has played some shortstop as well. I feel like the Orioles organization thinks a lot of Turner and think he will be a consistent player at the major league level. But there isn’t anywhere to put him that he will be able to get enough at-bats to prove himself. That is, unless they want to try him out and shortstop and see what he can do.
For right now, they’re going to use him wherever they need him. That could be at second base, shortstop or as a utility player. At this point, I don’t see any set plans on the future of the infield. Everything seems to be jumbled up right now, so I guess it all depends on who can outperform the next guy. This could very well mean Turner could find himself a permanent spot on the Orioles roster depending on how he does when he gets his opportunity.
The overall consensus on Turner is that he isn’t going to blow you away with his power at the plate as far as home runs go. He can’t work the count like Roberts, but he does seem comfortable in the box and could be close to a .300 hitter at the big league level. His speed isn’t anything to write home about, though. On the defensive side of the ball, he has decent range and his arm is powerful enough to play third, if needed. The only thing Turner doesn’t have much of is experience at the major-league level. Obviously he will earn that experience with the array of injuries to Orioles’ infield. He does have 322 minor league games of experience at second base as well as 31 as shortstop, which helps.
So, back to answering the question of whom exactly Turner is. Basically he is a top Orioles infield prospect who has the potential to be an everyday player if he can turn that potential into great play on the field. He will have to beat out a couple other prospects that are fighting for the same job, but it is a feasible goal for him. Turner may be the future shortstop or Roberts’ replacement at second base when he decides to hang it up. Only time will tell exactly what Turner’s role will be with the Orioles, but I think he could be a solid everyday player in the future.
Submitted by Steve Giles