Pirates Claim Left-Handed Pitcher Nik Turley

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Monday afternoon that they have claimed left-handed pitcher Nik Turley from the Minnesota Twins. The 28-year-old Turley made his Major League debut in 2017, posting an 11.21 ERA and 2.15 WHIP in 17.2 innings over three starts and seven relief appearances. He is out of options going into 2018.

Turley was drafted in the 50th round by the New York Yankees in 2008 out of high school, so he really put in a lot of time over ten seasons to go from one of the final draft picks in 2008, to a Major League player in 2017. He was rated higher in the draft at the time and received a $125,000 signing bonus. The results were obviously very poor for the Twins, with a lot of hits and some home run issues. During his minor league career, which has been spent mostly as a starter, he a 3.43 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning. Turley has spent parts of four seasons in Triple-A and was even in independent ball at one time in 2016.

Baseball America ranked him among the Yankees top 30 prospects three times, topping out at #14 in 2012. He was also the 18th best prospect in the Florida State League that season and he was chosen as the best control pitcher for the Yankees system in 2011. In 2012, he was a low-90s fastball pitcher with a big curveball and a high ground ball rate. As he moved up the system, he began to get more fly balls. He also went through a period of average control, but he did a nice job of throwing strikes this season with Triple-A Rochester.

UPDATE 4:17 PM: Analysis from Tim Williams…

The Pirates are growing a collection of fringe lefties who could be used for depth in 2017. That started in September when they added Jack Leathersich and Dan Runzler to the 40-man roster. The addition of Turley seems to be along the same lines.

This seems like a pretty low-key move, so I won’t go into detail about how Turley can help the team in 2018. The Pirates will likely make a lot of waiver claims and minor league free agent signings over the offseason, with some of the earlier waiver claims being designated for assignment to make room for later waiver claims.

The goal with this plan, for the Pirates and every other team in baseball, is to add a mass quantity of players, and hope that one or two of them can eventually help out. I don’t know if Turley himself will make it through the offseason with the team, or if he will be the one who helps out. But the overall strategy is the thing to focus on here.

The overall strategy can also tell us something about the team. In this case, they need lefty relievers, and some of their fringe additions in the last few months have aimed to address that. I’d expect more lefties being brought in going forward. The question would be whether the Pirates make additional moves internally, such as converting someone like Steven Brault to a reliever.

  • I’m sure there’s a joke here somewhere.
    Here we go with NH bargain basement shopping has begun and it’s not even Black Friday yet!
    Looks like we’re right on par with the Cubs now.

  • What about an overall strategy of trying to develop a quality bullpen, perhaps be converting starters who can miss bats to relief roles where they might be able to add a few mph. I don’t see how accumulating any number of “low ceiling” pitchers has any likelihood of resulting in an upgrade to the bullpen, short of a completely unexpected lightning strike (like a John Holdzkomb, who evidently did have quality stuff). Maybe a lot of teams do this, but it sure seems like an approach based on “hoping for a miracle”. Miracles do happen, but not that often – that’s what makes them miracles! I would think that a history of having had only 3 winning seasons out of the last 23 would prompt a somewhat more aggressive approach and one with a higher likelihood of producing positive results. Or is baseball so badly infected by income inequality that even that is hoping for too much? This doesn’t sound all that promising to me. The Angels have already re-upped Justin Upton, .maybe not the greatest move for that franchise but at least one that reflects that they are trying to seize a possible opening to compete for a WC; and the Pirates – so far nothing meaningful. Tick-tock.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    November 6, 2017 10:23 pm

    LeBlanc 2.0

  • Tim or John,
    What are the odds that at 50th round
    draft pick would make it this high?
    There had to be a reason that he’
    was drafted in the 50th round.
    Dr. G.
    PS: See Lee, the Pirates are not
    standing pat this off season….

    • As a high school pick, it was probably more about bonus demands.Just because he received $125,000 (plus college money) doesn’t mean that was his original asking price. He may have dropped to the 50th round because he wanted a lot and priced himself out of the top 10-15 rounds.

      • “Turley is Mormon. He intends to serve as a missionary after he retires from baseball.” From Wiki

    • I stand corrected, Dr D. 😉

  • The Pirates have gotten a head start in signing guys named Moe in the off-season.

  • AAA filler.

    • He did some strong work at AAA last year in the IL, but definitely not worth a spot on the 40.

      Good catch Tim changing the 2017 reference in the 1st Para to 2018 in the 2nd Para

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    November 6, 2017 4:04 pm

    Didn’t make his MLB debut until age 28….that says a lot right there….

  • I’ll take one Turley, three Power Ball tix and two Mega Millions, please.