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Chiefs' Turner collects three more hits

Nationals No. 2 prospect staying focused to maintain success
May 6, 2016

Trea Turner's career trajectory has been a steady rise, but the Nationals' second-ranked prospect understands complacency can easily stall that progress. So he doesn't take his success for granted.

"I don't know if there's anything left for me to prove necessarily," Turner said. "But I think there are still a lot of improvements to make. You can always be more consistent because as soon as you think you have it all figured out, the game can come back and bite you. It's a tough game and you just have to stick with it."

MLB.com's ninth overall prospect registered his second straight three-hit game on Friday night, driving in one run and scoring another in Triple-A Syracuse's 5-0 blanking of Buffalo at Coca-Cola Field. Turner collected three singles and a sacrifice fly to go with a stolen base.

"I felt consistent," he said. "I feel like I had a good plan going up there and executed it well. I was buying into the good approach, keeping it simple, staying up the middle and not doing too much."

Turner singled up the middle in both the first and third innings, adding a line drive base hit to right in the eighth. It was the eighth game with at least three hits this season for the 2014 first-round pick, who's 10-for-25 in his last six contests, a stretch that includes back-to-back hitless games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I think the box score doesn't always tell you about the game," Turner said. "There are times you hit the ball hard and you're 0-for-4, but you can go 2-for-4 or 3-for-4 on a couple of soft hits. I know I could've done better here and there, but overall, I'm having good at-bats and it's just a matter of sticking to it and continuing to grind it out."

The speedy shortstop raised his batting average to .336 while improving to 12-for-12 in stolen bases after going 29-for-35 across three leagues last season.

"I think it's just about knowing the game," Turner said of his baserunning approach. "Knowing what the pitcher is going to do, knowing who's hitting behind you and the counts. Just trying to relax out there. When you try to get jumps, you may end up doing stupid things and make a mistake. If you stay relaxed, I think you can take advantage of a lot of opportunities out there."

The lessons Turner has learned during his Minor League career have come from various sources, but with more than 200 games under his belt, he's beginning to hear a voice from within.

"I think I've improved a lot overall," he said. "I think I made a lot of plays that I don't think I would've made last year and every time I do something, I can tell myself what I did right or wrong -- and the same thing goes at the plate. I think I've matured as a player and have even become my own coach a little."

Turner's chances of returning to Washington may not be far off. Until then, he said he'll try to take advantage of the time he has with Syracuse to fine-tune his game.

"Everybody wants to be up there [in the Majors]," he said. "It's my goal and a lot of people's goals. But the decision is out of my hands, it's up to other people. I just try to make every opportunity I have here count and trying to get better because all the reps here are valuable to me. I just have to keep improving, and whenever the chance comes, try to make the most out of it."

Brendan Ryan matched Turner with three hits, including two doubles, while Nationals No. 29 prospect Matt Skole broke things open with a three-run homer in the eighth. No. 10 prospect Pedro Severino tacked on a solo shot in the ninth.

Aaron Laffey (3-0) gave up two hits and two walks while striking out four over six scoreless innings to get the win. Matt Grace, Nick Masset and Rafael Martin combined for three perfect innings out of the bullpen.

Michael Peng is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelXPeng