Turley More Than A Narrative For Yankees
NEW YORK Nik Turley has one brother who is a Navy Seal and another who plays basketball at Penn. That makes for an interesting background, and who doesn't root for a player taken in the 50th round of the draft, not to mention one whom the Yankees refer to as an "extremely hard worker."
What really has helped the 22-year-old lefty go from being just another pitcher to a prospect, however, is increased arm strength.
"It has gone up. The fastball was at 90 to 91 (mph) and now it's up to 94," vice president Mark Newman said. "He has matured physically through our strength and conditioning program."
A product of Los Angeles-area Harvard-Westlake High, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Turley had committed to Brigham Young coming out of high school. He signed with the Yankees—despite being taken in the final round of the 2008 draft—when they offered him $150,000.
Turley spent two seasons in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and started 2010 back in the GCL before moving up to short-season Staten Island, going 4-6, 3.86 in 15 starts between the two stops. Last summer he went a combined 4-6, 2.81 between low Class A Charleston and high Class A Tampa. He got promoted in July but made just two starts before breaking the pinkie finger on his left hand and ending his season.
Back in Tampa to start 2012, Turley had a 2.23 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks in 36 innings. With that type of start, are there plans to promote him?
"He needs more time at Tampa, but I wouldn't be surprised if he pitches higher than that," Newman said.
Turley isn't a one-dimensional pitcher who gets by on arm strength alone.
"He can spin the ball and has a good changeup—it's a swing-and-miss pitch," Newman said. "And he has a very good pickoff move."
• When outfielder Slade Heathcott is ready to return from shoulder surgery, the 2009 first-round pick will join the extended spring program in Tampa. Heathcott was limited to taking batting practice through April after last year's surgery.
• Lefthander Manny Banuelos fired 32⁄3 shutout innings with no walks and five strikeoutsin in his first Triple-A start back from the disabled list, where he landed with an issue with a lat muscle in his back.