Catching up with Toronto Blue Jays Colton Turner
By Ryan Mueller
Toronto Blue Jays minor league relief pitcher Colton Turner joined Jays Journal to discuss the 2015 season, 2016 offseason and more!
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Colton Turner in 2012 out in the 21st round. In his first professional season, the Joshua HS alumni played an integral part in capturing the Vancouver Canadians second Northwest League Title, going 4-0 in 4 starts and 10 relief appearances.
In that first year, Colton’s innings were limited to only 34.1IP, having already thrown 87.2IP with Texas State before getting drafted. Turner posted a 5-3 record with a 2.46 ERA and 87 strikeouts in his last year with Texas State and carried that success over into his first professional season.
Colton looks back fondly on his time with Texas State University, stating that he “loved my time at Texas State” and said playing under Ty Harrington was “fun to play for him for 3 seasons.”
Colton followed up his strong début season with an equally strong sophomore season in 2013, which was split between Lo-A Lansing and Short Season A-Ball Vancouver. Starting the year in Lansing, Turner was hard pressed to find starts with Daniel Norris, Taylor Cole, Ben White, Kendall Graveman, Roberto Osuna, and Javier Avendano ahead of him on the depth charts. The organization decided that Turner would get a better opportunity to start in Vancouver.
A native of Celburne, Texas, located south-west of Dallas with a population of around 30,000, Turner missed the entire 2014 season with a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament, which required Tommy John surgery to repair.
Colton worked hard to get back to the diamond in 2015. Despite spending 11 days on the DL in April, Colton managed to avoid any major set backs and looked good coming back from Tommy John.
Like many pitchers returning from TJ surgery, Colton struggled with his control in the early weeks of 2015, walking 20 and striking out 25 through his first 29.1 IP.
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In July, the left-hander looked like a different pitcher posting 0-1, 1.59 ERA with 4 walks and 11 strike outs in 17.0IP. He continue to pitch well into August with 0-0, 4.50 ERA in August with 4BB and 13K’s (63% of his pitches for strikes). Showing the kind of command that we’ve come to expect in his first three years.
Turner got his first taste, although a very brief taste, of Advanced-A Dunedin in 2015. He got assigned to Dunedin on August 18th, but returned to Lansing two days later. In his only outing, Turner pitched one innings, allowing 3 runs on 3 hits, a home run, a wild pitch, a walk and strike out. A true character building experience for the soon-to-be 25-yr-old.
The Lugnuts season may have ended on September 14th, being eliminated from the playoffs by West Michigan, but it wasn’t the end of Turner’s 2015 season. Colton joined the to Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League (ABL).
Colton is hopeful that with a strong showing against that level of competition, which is comparable to Double-A and Triple-A, ‘it will improve the chances of me break spring training with New Hampshire.’
Heading down to Australia, Turner was anticipating a chance to use his 5-pitch repertoire in a starting role. A repertoire that features his bread and butter sinker and slider combo and a mix of 4-seam fastballs, change-ups and curveballs.
A return to the starting rotation in 2016 is something that Colton would welcome,
"Yes It was always nice knowing when you would be pitching and having the same routine each week. The transition to the bullpen was easy for me this year. I am comfortable starting or relieving."
When we spoke, Colton was transitioning from the Cavalry bullpen into the rotation; however, things haven’t worked out as planned, allowing 10 runs (6ER) in 8IP in 2 starts. He was able to throw 70 plus pitches and managed to throw about 60% of his pitches for strikes.
Since those starts, Colton has re-joined the bullpen, but continues to get his work in with mixed results. Overall, his record is 2-1, 7.25 ERA, 17BB, 11K’s in 22.1 IP. More importantly, Turner is healthy and continues to get work in.
Colton’s favorite baseball player is Nolan Ryan, who he had the opportunity to meet him in person and explains the experience as one he won’t soon forget.
"It was a great experience getting to hear him share his knowledge about the game. Definitely won’t forget it!"
Once the ABL season wraps up, Colton looks forward to spending time with his 3 labs (one chocolate and two yellow). “I love them to death, they are very energetic and smart and like to hunt.”
Colton has never been a math guy in school, but he doesn’t have need to know that the Toronto Blue Jays are short on MiLB LHP starters, therefore, a chance to compete for a spot on the Dunedin rotation is in the numbers in 2016. After all, he is more of a science and history guy.
Good luck in 2016!