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The 2015 season was the first one for 17-year-old catcher Jake Turnbull. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds out of Australia in October of 2014 and played briefly in the Australian Winter League later that year.

He would play in just two games in June, going 2-5 with two runs, two RBI, he was hit by two pitches and caught one of the two games.

July got out to a nice start as he had hits in his first five games, going 6-19 (.316) with a double, walk, three runs and four runs driven in. His six-game hitting streak would end with a pinch hitting appearance on the 10th. The next night he would go 2-5 with a double, walk, RBI and two runs. From the 15th through the 22nd he would hit .300/.333/.500 with a double and a home run in 21 plate appearances. In the final three games of the month he would go 0-8, but drew four walks in that span and scored three times. For the entire month he would hit .259/.344/.370 with seven walks and 16 strikeouts in 61 plate appearances.

August would be a battle with consistency. The first week of the month was a strong one. The Australian catcher hit .417 with five walks in five games. Over the next seven games he would hit just .200, but he did draw three walks in that time. The next three games would all be multiple hit games where he would go 7-12 (.583). The season would finish up with two games where he would go 0-7 with a walk and four strikeouts. Overall the final month was a successful one even if it was inconsistent. In 16 plate appearances he would hit .314/.426/.373 with 10 walks and 15 strikeouts.

It’s rare for a 17-year-old to get as much playing time in the United States, but Jake Turnbull racked up 129 plate appearances and more than held his own from an offensive standpoint despite being one of the youngest players in the league. He threw out 41% of opposing base runners, but he did struggle with passed balls as he allowed 12 in 21 games behind the plate.

129 6 0 1 17 1 17 31 .291 .395 .373

Scouting Report


Hitting | Turnbull is advanced for his age with the bat and it showed in 2015. He can use the entire field and can hit the ball hard to all fields already.

Power | His in game power right now is limited, which isn’t a surprise given that he just finished his age 17 season. He’s got some power potential to tap into though. He’s got bat speed and can get loft on the ball. 15-20 home runs doesn’t seem to be out of the question if he continues to develop over the years.

Running | For a catcher he runs well. He’s also still quite young and could lose some speed over the years as he continues to fill out. Speed isn’t expected to be a part of his game moving forward.

Arm | He’s already showing off a strong arm, one that helped him throw out 41% of attempted base stealers, ranking 5th in the league (minimum 15 starts).

Defense | Turnbull is making improvements, but like nearly every 17-year-old catcher in the history of the game, there’s plenty to work on still. He had struggles with passed balls in 2015, but he’s athletic behind the plate and seems to show all of the tools you want out of a catcher. It’s just a matter of taking that athleticism and turning it into skills in the future with plenty of repetitions.

At the plate Jake Turnbull made some changes in 2015. He went from a traditional leg lift and drop in his loading stage to implementing a short leg lift to toe-tap-and-turn in the loading stage. He also lowered his hands slightly in his set up, allowing him to get his hands loaded quicker in his swing. While his toe-tap is different from what a young Jay Bruce was using, the swings are very similar in every other manner. The swing plane, hands, opening of the hips – it’s all very similar. Turnbull also shows a good understanding of the strikezone. While that is generally a common thing among catchers, for someone of his age, he is very advanced in his pitch recognition and strikezone judgement. The Reds paid a $400,000 signing bonus to Turnbull and he’s already showing a well rounded game just a year later. He’s still years away from the big leagues and as a catcher will take plenty of time to move up through the organization, but there’s a lot to like from the teenager.

To Total % 1B 2B 3B HR AVG SLG IsoP
P 3 3.8% 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
C 0 0.0% 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
1B 4 5.1% 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
2B 16 20.3% 1 0 0 0 .063 .063 .000
3B 6 7.6% 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
SS 14 17.7% 1 0 0 0 .071 .071 .000
LF 9 11.4% 5 3 0 0 .889 1.222 .333
CF 13 16.5% 9 1 0 0 .769 .846 .077
RF 14 17.7% 9 2 0 1 .857 1.214 .357


6 Responses

  1. The Duke

    There was a lot to like about Turnbull’s first year stateside. He put bat on ball at a good rate, showed an understanding of the strike zone better than a lot of guys in the upper minors, and flashed all the tools you want to see to be above average our even plus defensively behind the plate. Inconsistency from a kid who wou k d have been a junior in High school if he lived in the US is forgivable, let’s just see steady improvement next year. I’d assume with as well as he performed he’d move up to Billings in 2016, but given his age it wouldn’t be completely shocking if he was back in the AZL again. I think he gets moved up though.

  2. Norwood Nate

    One would assume the passed ball issue would be alleviated somewhat as he advances and the pitchers he’s catching hit their spots more consistently.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m sure that’s part of what’s going on. But with 12 in 21 games, there’s probably something more to it than just that as well. Of course, he was 17-years-old too. Repetitions are going to really help things out over the next few years.

  3. RedsKoolAidDrinker

    Doug, if this kid were to be able to be drafted off of what he’s shown, what range do you think we’d be looking at?

    • Mike

      Yeah, nice question kook aid. Interested in your opinion there Doug.ty mike

    • Doug Gray

      Late response…. got lost in the Rule 5 talk all day.

      I think he’d probably be a 2nd rounder type of guy right now. The raw talent is there.