Turner earns victory in Zephyrs' debut

Allows run, two hits over five innings in first start for Marlins

By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com | July 28, 2012 7:17 PM ET

New organization, new Minor League city, new uniform. Same mind-set, same expectations, same Jacob Turner.

The 21-year-old right-hander allowed a run on two hits over five innings in his debut in the Marlins organization Saturday as Triple-A New Orleans edged Iowa, 2-1.

It was Turner's first start since Miami acquired him from the Tigers on Monday in the trade that sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Tigers.

But that series of firsts wasn't on the pitcher's mind once he brought his plus fastball along with a curveball and changeup to the mound at Zephyr Field.

"Everything's the same going into every start, no matter where I am," Turner said. "I'm always looking to pitch deep into games and just give my team a chance to win. That's it."

Where the Marlins' new top prospect truly excelled in his Pacific Coast League debut was his ability to recover. He allowed the leadoff man to reach three times, walking Alfredo Amezaga to open the game and giving up a homer to Brett Jackson in the second inning. In each case, however, Turner retired the next three batters.

Overall, he held the Cubs hitless in seven at-bats with runners on base. Considering the teams were never separated by more than a run, that statistic may have been the most important of the night.

"I feel like I made the pitches when I needed to tonight," Turner said. "I just wanted to keep the team in the game, however I could. ... I was at my best when they had runners on base. I was able to throw all of my pitches well -- it didn't feel like just one in particular. I mixed them pretty good and was able to keep them off-balance because of that."

A relative lack of control, however, kept the Missouri native from pitching beyond the fifth. He threw 41 pitches over the first two innings and totaled 88, only 48 of which were strikes. The three walks were the most he's issued at any level since June 26.

"I threw too many pitches early, which kind of kept me from going any deeper than I would have liked," said the Tigers' 2009 first-round Draft pick. "I didn't get ahead of enough guys, didn't get enough quick outs. But you take those mistakes and hope to improve on them next time."

Even with those mistakes, Turner expressed satisfaction with his Zephyrs' debut. Part of that success had to do with what he called a "smooth" transition from the only system he's ever known to the Marlins organization. After learning about the trade while traveling to Cleveland on Monday, he had a five-day transition period to the Miami system before taking the mound in New Orleans.

What he found during those five days, he liked immensely.

"They told me they were excited to have me and hopefully, I can represent them well going forward," said MLB.com's No. 10 overall prospect. "I'm excited anytime I join a new group of guys. I'm grateful for everything the Tigers organization did for me, but I'm looking forward to seeing how I can help Miami now."

Part of that assistance could come at the Major League level sooner rather than later. Turner was 1-1 with an 8.03 ERA in three starts for the Tigers this season and made his last start for the big club on Sunday.

Locked in the middle of an AL Central duel with the White Sox, Detroit was looking for a rotation upgrade. But Miami, which reportedly is shopping ace Josh Johnson, could find room for Turner to gain more experience.

"I'm just focused on pitching every fifth day here [in New Orleans] and helping these guys out right now," Turner said. "At some point, if they want me to pitch in the Majors, I'll be glad to do it. But right now, I'm just worried about what's in front of me."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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