Last July, Brice Turang didn’t mince words when it came to his goals for the future. “My goal is to be the No. 1 pick of the draft,” he told Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo. Turang is a legacy player — his dad Brian played for the Mariners in the early 90s, and all the Turang children grew up with a passion for baseball. All four of Brice’s sisters went on to play college sports, something he may do himself if the draft doesn’t pan out, since he is already committed to go to LSU.
While Turang isn’t going to go first overall in this year’s draft thanks to the existence of Casey Mize, he is a first round player, and a skilled position option for teams hoping to bolster their infield roster in the future. He’s also fairly young for a high school draftee, and will have plenty of time to develop in the minors if he decides to choose baseball over college.
Turang is fast, patient, and has a natural acumen for the sport that makes him a scout favorite, but his talent has also manifested itself in lackadaisical play from time to time, and he lacks true hitting power.
School: Santiago High School (CA)
Draft day age: 18
MLB Pipeline prospect rank: 22
Previously drafted: Never
MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: SS Brice Turang
Scouts who have been watching Turang the last couple years see a natural baseball aptitude in him, one that lets certain aspects of his play appear almost too easy. He has such a great eye at the plate he struck out only once in the 2017 season. 2080 Baseball, who watched him at the National High School Invitational said he displayed, “advanced bat-to-ball skills, defensive aptitude, and speed that grades out as at least plus.”
They went on to describe him thusly:
There is some length to Turang’s swing, but he does a fine job of spraying line drives the other way, though it’s unclear if he’ll hit for much power as a professional. Turnag’s speed is an asset, as he consistently produces home-to-first times in the 4.05-to-4.15 range from the left side, then subsequently shows long, fluid strides as he zips around the bases.
Speed is the biggest gold star on most scouting reports for Turang, where it ranks typically between 60-70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. It’s so much a pro for him that even MLB Pipeline glossed over his lacking power to praise the speed. “Turang has an advanced approach at the plate, with power to come, and his speed plays on both sides of the ball.” Baseball America didn’t see any issues with his power, calling him a “thin and speedy infielder [who can] pull a ball with such easy power.”
Turang’s defensive game is spoken highly of. River Avenue Blues said of his fielding, “He’s a true shortstop with above-average range and a strong arm.” There’s certainly plenty to like about what Turang brings to the field. MLB Pipeline suggests that while most would pigeonhole him as a shortstop only, he has the chops to extend himself to second base if needed. His fielding and throwing (both averaging about 55 depending which scout you ask) are rated above average, so for a team looking to add a long-term middle infielder, Turang should come up high on the radar.
Considered one of the better prep players in the country, had Turang graduated last year he would have likely been a no-doubt top-ten selection. However, according to MLB Pipeline, “a relatively pedestrian summer showcase performances and an extremely high expectation bar, a trend that has continued this spring, caused his star to fade.” According to Baseball America, this waning interest in Turang isn’t actually a result of him playing any worse, but rather him spending four years playing at the varsity level, leaving scouts just looking for things to nitpick about his performance.
His size is another concern for some scouts. He’s 6’1 and 165 pounds, and that lean frame isn’t something that lends itself well to power — the one category where Turang really suffers. He has proven himself a smart hitter, which scouts think will lead to a high-contact career, but without the power to back those hits he’ll have to rely heavily on his speed.
Another big issue for a team that has their eye on Turang is the fact he’s committed to play for LSU this fall. He might opt to head to college rather than enter the professional ranks, but that will likely depend largely on where he is drafted. If he falls into the later first round — or below, for the Tigers’ interests — he may head to Baton Rouge instead.
Draft position: first round, likely within the top 20
Overexposure may be to blame for Turang’s drop in popularity. He was so hyped in 2017, then middling results in spring have some feeling a little down on him, given his previous performances. That said, 2080 Baseball has him listed as going 16th to the Tampa Bay Rays. Baseball America likewise lists him going at 16. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs sees him going “in the 12-25” range, but adds the caveat that if he continues his hot streak of hits he might coax his way into the top 10.
h/t to 2080 Baseball, Prospect Pipeline, and Baseball America for the videos