NIK TURLEY, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: September 11, 1989
Drafted: 50th Round, 1502nd Overall, 2008 (Yankees)
How Acquired: Waiver claim (from Twins)
High School: Harvard-Westlake HS (Los Angeles, CA)
Agent: ISE Baseball
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Yankees took Turley in the last round of the 2008 draft. They signed him and a number of other later round picks to above-slot amounts after failing to sign first rounder Gerrit Cole, as well as their second round pick. Turley has spent most of his career as a starter, moving to relief only in 2016 and then returning to being a starter much of the time after mid-season. As a starter, he threw about 89-90 with a good curve and a change. In the low minors he was regarded as having very good control, but the strike zone was a problem for him after he reached the upper minors. Since 2015 he’s had large platoon splits, but he didn’t before that. In the minors he’s been a flyball pitcher. His velocity has picked up in recent years; in the majors in 2017 his fastball sat at about 93 and, in relief, at times sat at 95-96. The Pirates claimed him off waivers from the Twins in November 2017.
Turley pitched very well in brief action in rookie ball. Baseball America rated him the Yankees’ 32nd best prospect after the season.
The Yankees sent Turley back to rookie ball and he again pitched well, mainly as a starter, although he didn’t have numbers as impressive as in his brief debut.
Turley opened the season back in the Gulf Coast League again, but he joined the rotation in the New York-Penn League after three games. He pitched only decently there, as he had control problems.
The Yankees moved Turley up to low A and he made great strides, with much better walk and K rates. He earned a mid-season promotion to high A, but in his second start his season was ended by a line drive that broke his hand. BA rated him the Yankees’ 27th best prospect after the season.
Turley continued to pitch well in high A, still striking out a batter an inning. BA rated him 14th in the system after the season and the Yankees added him to the 40-man roster.
The Yankees sent Turley back to AA and he got off to a rough start. He ended up spending the season at the level, except for one start in AAA. The main difference was control problems.
Turley missed the first half of the season due to arm tightness. In late April, the Yankees released him and signed him to a minor league deal. He went to AAA in June, but struggled badly with his control. After the season, he became a free agent and signed with the Giants.
Turley missed most of the first two months, then spent the rest of the season in the rotation with the Giants’ Pacific Coast League affiliate. He didn’t pitch well, again struggling with the strike zone, although not as badly as the previous year. He also had gopher ball problems for the first time, allowing 15. The PCL may have been a factor in that. Turley became a free agent again after the season and signed with the White Sox.
The White Sox cut Turley in March and he signed with Boston. The Red Sox sent him to AA and employed him out of the bullpen. His K rate increased greatly but he also had more trouble than ever throwing strikes. The Sox released him in July and he caught on with Somerset of the independent Atlantic League. Employed mainly as a starter there, he dominated, showing much better control. After the season he signed with Minnesota.
The Twins sent Turley initially to AA, but he was nearly unhittable there. After four games he moved up to AAA, eventually pitching as a starter. He pitched well and got a callup in June, as the Twins were in the midst of a season in which they used 36 different pitchers, 16 of whom made starts. Turley made three starts for the Twins and got bombed. He went back to AAA and continued to pitch well in a swing role, while also getting called up twice more. This time he pitched in relief and did better, although not especially well. In the majors, HRs were a big problem, as he allowed one every three and a half innings. After the season, the Pirates claimed Turley off waivers.
Turley’s 2018 season never got off the ground. First, he was suspended 80 games after testing positive for a PED. Then he suffered a left elbow strain and, once he was reinstated, the Pirates placed him on the 60-day disabled list. He never reached a point where he was ready to pitch. In fact, at some point, he had Tommy John surgery. The Pirates outrighted him to AAA after the season.
After the Pirates outrighted him in 2018, Turley re-signed for 2019 and 2020. He missed the 2019 season following the TJ surgery.
Turley made the Pirates’ 30-man roster for the start of the truncated 2020 season and ended up appearing in more games (25) than any of the team’s pitchers except Chris Stratton. Considering that he had little major league experience, hadn’t thrown a pitch in a game in nearly three years, and didn’t get any minor league rehab, he did fairly well. He benefited from a very low BABIP of .211, but also had a very low strand rate of 54.7%. He allowed only one gopher ball. These numbers resulted in an odd combination of a 3.88 FIP and 5.60 xFIP. When Turley had trouble, it was often due to walks. He threw two pitches exclusively, a 94-95 mph four-seamer and a curve, the latter 44% of the time. The fastball was the more effective pitch. Turley had a large, reverse platoon split, allowing an OPS of .456 to right-handed hitters and .874 to left-handed. The latter resulted partly from walks. The sample size was small, though, so it may not mean that much.
Turley had an interesting season in 2020, especially given the layoff, and the Pirates are short on LHPs. He was far from dominant, though, and shouldn’t be a lock for the 2021 bullpen, although he has no options left.
UPDATE: The Pirates designated Turley for assignment when they claimed Troy Stokes off waivers.
|2021: Minor league salary
|Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 6/11/2017
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2012 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2013, 2014, 2017)
MLB Service Time: 1.144
|June 6, 2008: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 50th round, 1502nd overall pick; signed on unknown date.
November 20, 2012: Contract purchased by the New York Yankees.
April 26, 2014: Released by the New York Yankees.
May 8, 2014: Signed as a minor league free agent by the New York Yankees.
November 4, 2014: Became a free agent.
December 3, 2014: Signed as a minor league free agent by the San Francisco Giants.
November 6, 2015: Became a free agent.
December 12, 2015: Signed by the Chicago White Sox as a minor league free agent.
March 28, 2016: Released by the Chicago White Sox.
April 3, 2016: Signed by the Boston Red Sox as a minor league free agent.
July 14, 2016: Released by the Boston Red Sox.
October 27, 2016: Signed by the Minnesota Twins as a minor league free agent.
June 10, 2017: Called up by the Minnesota Twins.
November 6, 2017: Claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 4, 2018: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
July 23, 2020: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
January 12, 2021: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.