What can’t Trea Turner do?

Family photo courtesy of Mark Turner. Trea at 12 years old with the West Boynton Bandits travel team pictured with his mom Donna.

“There’s Only One Thing In Life You Can Control: Your Own Effort,” said Mark Cuban the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Shark Tank star.

See it and weep we would say to every coach, scout, evaluator, and analyst who missed how truly special Trea Turner was and is. Too often, they judge a book by its cover and miss the content of what’s inside. An undersized skinny kid was almost always judged by his physical appearance in sports. At barely 5 feet tall, Trea Turner was a 14-year-old freshman at Park Vista High School in Palm Beach County, Florida, and fortunately for Trea he had a head coach, Larry Greenstein, who believed in him then. Turner’s family always believed in him, and Trea always believed in himself. That was his foundation based on belief.

There were no big-time colleges calling, and if it wasn’t for Greenstein, Turner would have gone undrafted in 2011. Rolando “Roly” Pino was the only scout who visited Trea in High School and that came at Greenstein’s request. Elliott Avent, Trea’s college coach at North Carolina State, signed him after a call-in favor.  Trea didn’t sign with the Pirates out of high school as they weren’t offering much as a 20th round pick. At the very least, Trea would have a great education if baseball at NC State did not work out, and it was at NC State where Trea met his college sweetheart Kristen Harabedian and everything seemed to come together in life, love, and baseball. Turner was going to be a winner if he never played baseball because failure is not an option he knows. Perseverance and defying what the detractors say has been something he had to do since he was a kid whenever they told him “no” which was too often.

In college, it was no longer a secret who Trea Turner was. The Rookie of the Year runner-up was a no-doubt 1st round draft pick in 2014 when the San Diego Padres chose Turner with the 13th overall pick in the draft.  If Turner would have slipped to #18, Mike Rizzo could have chosen Turner instead of Erick Fedde. Now Rizzo has both players plus Joe Ross.

It was Bob MillerVice President and Assistant General Manager to Mike Rizzo, who was the architect of the Steven Souza trade that yielded Trea Turner and Joe Ross as the haul back to the Nationals from the Padres in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays that also involved All-Star and AL ROY Wil Myers.

Trea Turner has single-handedly won games for the Nationals before using his speed and power, but when you score 4 runs with 7 RBIs on 4 hits, last night’s game has to be considered his best statistical game in his career. Turner has already had a walk-off home run for the Nationals which was his career highlight, and now he is a weapon even when he isn’t stealing bases which is what always made him a difference maker and a wreaker of havoc on the basepaths.

From the times when no analyst believed in Trea Turner to everyone jumping on the bandwagon, the projections have now hit the pinnacle of his sport. ESPN’s Eduardo Perez went for it and predicted Trea for the NL MVP this year.

“That’s somebody that’s super-special,” teammate Bryce Harper said about Trea Turner last year.

In 2015, Trea’s best game was on September 29th when he hit a home run and had a single. Trea actually went 8 games into his MLB career before recording his first hit, but the smart analysts saw the three-tool potential at the time, and those were some strong tools with that “80” speed that you just can’t teach. None of us saw the “power” tool until 2016.

When Ryan Zimmerman went on paternity leave last year, Trea was called up to take his roster spot. Turner went 3-for-3 in his 2016 debut and was actually sent back down to Triple-A without another at-bat. Thanks but no thanks. Trea wasn’t brought back until there was another roster opening in early July last season. You could say Dusty Baker wasn’t thinking Trea très bien. Turner got a start on July 10th but sat for 4 days after that until he got his next start. It was the glute injury to Daniel Murphy at the All-Star game that almost forced Baker to play Turner every day, and he has been a regular ever since. On July 27th of that season, Turner carried the offense beating the World Series Cleveland Indians 4-1 behind 3 RBIs from the Nationals’ Trea-sure. Turner’s batting average climbed to .356 on September 17th of 2016, and he was showing power like he never showed before.

Greenstein spoke on the Talk Nats Podcast about Trea’s power that he saw in 2016. Turner had turned into a legitimate 4-tool player with the speed, hit tool, defense, and showing 25 home run power. Greenstein texted Trea after he hit his first home run of 2016 and wrote him “don’t be dropping and driving” meaning dropping that back shoulder to upper cut everything and swinging from your heels for the fences, but that wasn’t the case with Turner. He was swinging very controlled and creating tremendous backspin for extra distance.  Trea hit 13 home runs on the half season he got to play in 2016, and had an MVP type of slash line at:  .342 /.370/ .567/ .937 on his way to a 2nd place placement in the Rookie of the Year voting which was only a second place finish because Corey Seager played a full season.

“I always think it,” Trea’s father Mark Turner told us this morning that he always believes Trea has a chance at something big.

Three times last season Trea Turner was a hit away from a cycle. On August 13th, he needed the double, on September 5th he needed the elusive triple, and on September 16th he also needed that triple. Last night, Turner got the single, double and home run out of the way, and added the elusive triple in the top of the 7th inning. Turner on the game scored 4 runs and knocked in 7 RBIs leading the Nationals to a win.

“No, I actually wasn’t [thinking about hitting for the cycle],” Turner said. “I was trying to survive the cold. Big at-bat too. Just bases loaded one out, trying to get the ball to the outfield. I didn’t want to hit into a doubleplay. They’ve got some good arms over there, so I was actually not thinking about [the triple]. And it’s funny when you don’t think about it, it happens.”

Up until last night, it might have been the September 9th walk-off home run that stood as Turner’s crowning pro achievement.

But as a young boy, Trea Turner knows how close he was to the cycle and inside-the park-home-run in the Florida High School semi-final playoffs in 2011 when Jose Fernandez faced him and Turner got that elusive triple plus the single and double in the game. That leftfielder made a diving catch to rob him of extra bases and what could have been an inside-the-park-home-run and the cycle and a Park Vista win. Turner never had a cycle at any level in high school, college, minor leagues or the bigs until now. It could be the first of many, but cycles are flukey. It has been 9 years since Cristian Guzman hit for the cycle for the Nats and Brad Wilkerson did it in the 2nd game of the Nationals existence in Philadelphia back in 2005. That’s been it in over 12 years of Nationals’ baseball.

“With his only home run coming in the regional final I would venture to say the home run was what he needed for a High School cycle,” Larry Greenstein said to us this morning. “You got to love it though….only 1 speed…..all out!”

Trea’s teammates love him. What did Daniel “Hits” Murphy think of his much younger teammate:

“It’s elite talent and he’s a grinder. He doesn’t give away pitches offense or defense. When you take someone who’s immensely talented like he is and then they’re engaged on every single pitch, special things happen, which is what we saw this evening.”

Murphy had 5 RBIs himself last night with 3 hits which included a bases clearing triple like Turner had. On a normal day, it would be Daniel Murphy getting the attention, but Murphy is much happier talking about his teammates who excel rather than talk about himself.

What did Dusty Baker think?

“There’s not many guys who can say they drove in seven runs in a game. I just hope he remembers how he did it and duplicates it over and over and over.”

Dusty Baker is right. Driving in seven runs is super impressive. Now in one week you have Murphy and Harper driving in 5 runs each and they have done that twice each this season. Trea’s seven ribeyes stands large.

“You’d have to ask my Mom that, but no,” Turner said about any prior cycles at any level. “Not since college. Had a couple triples and homers. In college I remember some games when I had both of them, but I’ve never hit for the cycle.”

Well we did ask Mom about her son, and Donna Turner is travelling on business now in North Carolina. We will have to see if we hear back from her to insert her comment. You always want to know what Donna Turner has to say. The Morick Code was sent out last night for “chocolate brownies” and we hope Donna answered her phone at her hotel or at the very least had MLB.TV on her computer. Chocolate brownies clap, clap, clap, it’s a delicious treat.

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