Turner expected to play second base for Dragons
By Marc Katz
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
SARASOTA, Fla. — During a spring training break Tuesday, Justin Turner said it was no surprise to him that so many of the Billings, Mont., Mustangs did so well last season.
"We had an experienced group," said Turner of his rookie Pioneer League season in the Reds system. "A lot of us played four years in college."
The experience showed. Turner, a seventh-round draft choice out of Cal State-Fullerton — where he played four years with outfielder Danny Dorn, also a Reds draft pick — hit .338 with six homers and 41 RBIs in 60 games.
He is expected to be the next second baseman for the Class A Midwest League Dayton Dragons, who open their eighth season next week.
Philosophies vary from team-to-team on drafting players. Some like to go after high school players to train them professionally from the start. Some like drafting the more mature — physically and mentally — college players.
Terry Reynolds, once chief of the Reds amateur scouting department and now director of player development, just wants to draft the best players.
Last summer, the Reds took only four high school players among their top 32 picks, only two in the first 10 rounds.
"We took Jay Bruce out of high school the year before," Reynolds said, "and Drew Stubbs (out of the University of Texas) last year. We want the best players."
Reynolds said he expected the Billings team to win with its older players.
"They should do well," he said.
Turner said it's because in college, without a game every day, players are drilled over and over and over.
"We'd spend a four-hour practice on bunt defense," Turner said. "You'd have to be a moron not to know baseball after playing that long in college."
The biggest learning curve will come from playing every day. In college, teams play about 50 games a season. Rookie ball is a half season. Class A is 140 games, five full months with almost no breaks.
"I think it's exciting," Turner said. "Hopefully, I can pace myself. It's all on you. In college, there was a coach to make you run laps if you did something wrong, or showed up late. Here, there are so many guys, a coach can't watch everybody. It's your career."
When Reynolds — who was watching inter-squad games on a "camp" day Tuesday — was asked when he would solidify the Dragons roster, he pointed to Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, who also was watching the minor-leaguers.
"I haven't had much time to do this," said Krivsky, whose Reds were playing a night game. "We've had so many injuries."
With less than a week to go in spring training, the Reds continue to use players in exhibition games who have already been sent to the minor-league complex. After going through morning drills and games with minor-league teams, shortstop Paul Janish, outfielder Jay Bruce and catcher Ryan Hanigan were all told to come back and play for the Reds against the Phillies in Clearwater at night.
•Krivsky said a few of this season's Dragons will probably head to Dayton early to participate in Saturday's exhibition at Fifth Third Field between the Reds and Florida Marlins. He said the Real Reds would start before replacements are used.
•Sean Watson, a second-round pick out of Tennessee last summer who had a hot start at Billings (1.52 ERA) but had a rough go in Dayton (8.59 ERA), has shed nearly 20 pounds (down to 222) and is being remade into a starter. He'll probably be back with the Dragons.
•Name to remember: Daryl Thompson. He's a hard-throwing right-hander who also might make the Dayton team and was one of the players in that eight-guy swap with Washington last summer featuring Austin Kearns, etc. leaving the Reds for Bill Bray, Gary Majewski, etc.