Nik Turley, trying to latch on with the San Francisco Giants after being released by the New York Yankees, was invited to spring training along with twenty-one other non-roster players. Turley is a six foot, four inch lefty, who has been a starter in the minor league system the vast majority of his appearances in games.
I don’t know why Turley was released from the Yankees’ organization, but the reality is that the Giants would not have invited him to camp, without having both scouted him extensively and done some expansive research. There is plenty of note in his dossier.
With Turley having committed to attending BYU out of Harvard-Westlake High School, clubs held off drafting him until the 50th and last round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, when the Yankees took a chance and selected him 1,502nd, the third to the last overall. Turley began his professional career that same year at the rookie level in the Gulf Coast League, with the CGL Yankees, and spent the 2009 season with the same team.
In 2010 he split the year with the Gulf Coast League (CGL Yankees) and the New York-Pennsylvania League at the A- level (Staten Island Yankees). In 2011 it was the South Atlantic League at the A level (Charleston RiverDogs) and the Florida State League at the A+ level (Tampa Yankees). Four seasons: four different teams/levels.
2012 saw Turley spend almost all of the season with the Tampa Yankees at the A+ level, and then go to the Eastern League at the AA level (Trenton Thunder) for one start.
A kid must be resilient to have had to start over again, six times in six years with six different teams. Today makes number seven.
He spent all of 2013 at Trenton except for one start at the AAA level, Scranto-Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the International League. Six seasons: six different teams.
Except for one start back in the Gulf Coast League (CGL Yankees), Turley spent the 2014 season with the RailRiders, going 5-3 with a 4.62 ERA and a WHIP of 1.624. Here is a snap-shot of his career minor league stats:
7 seasons: 38-32/3.41 ERA/113 G/104 GS/2 CG/551.1 IP/485 H/209 ER/36 HR/242 BB/508 SO/54 HBP/45 WP/WHIP 1.319/0.6 HR/9/4.0 BB/9/8.3 SO/9.
Ranked number 23 in the Yankees farm system, prior to the start of the 2014 season, Turley incurred arm tightness which infringed upon his season. He was released first on April 26th, re-signed on May 8th and then ultimately let go on November 7th. The Giants signed him in early December.
Turley’s fastball ranges from 88-92 mph and he has an overhand curveball, of which he has excellent control, throwing it into the dirt on one pitch, and across for a strike on the next. His third pitch is a change-up that is either very good, or not. He can either use it as a put-away pitch, or it can put him away, into the showers, depending on how it is going for him on any given day.
He had been durable until 2014, when he experienced arm tightness, actually increasing his workload each season, and he is a southpaw. With Dave Righetti on staff, and with the scouting combine bound to have given Turley a close look, one must assume that the Giants have spotted something about this kid they like.
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) talks to pitching coach Dave Righetti (33). Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
If nothing else, Nik Turley has a lot of determination. He began as an eighteen-year-old and is 25 now. Six times he has had to start over again with new teams in his professional career, and today marks the seventh. Sure there will be familiar faces here and there, as he greets guys he played with and against along the way, but still, seven seasons to get a look-see with the Giants.
Realistically, he will go down to the Triple-A level to serve as potential insurance, should he be needed at any point. I guess if he thought it was worthless, or he got terribly discouraged, he could return home and sell insurance. Or open a restaurant. Or teach PE at the local high school and coach.
Or just maybe, he could end up filling a key spot on a team defending its third world championship in the previous five years.