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Pair of prospects make Tigers take notice

Pair of prospects make Tigers take notice

Pair of prospects make Tigers take notice
PHOENIX -- Jacob Turner had just landed in town Saturday night after a long day of flights from Akron, Ohio, when he heard that the Tigers had sent down fellow pitching prospect Charlie Furbush. Turner knows Furbush well and was happy to see him get his shot in the big leagues.

He knows as long as he performs, he'll get his shot sooner or later. He isn't thinking about the TBA listed July 20 in the Tigers' rotation, only the July 18 date he was given to start his second half at Double-A Erie. Whether the Tigers are thinking of Turner for that spot might be another story.

"I really haven't even thought about it like that," Turner said Sunday from the XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field. "Obviously I saw that Furbush got sent down, but he's done really well up there. I think he had one bad outing.

"Right now I'm focused on whatever I can do to get better. I think the rest will take care of itself."


Likewise, Francisco Martinez is honed in on his own game, even as Brandon Inge continues to try to find his way out of his first-half struggles. Still, Martinez can't help but dream about the big leagues. The more the big Venezuelan slugs, the closer they seem.

"I do watch [the Tigers]," Martinez admitted through an interpreter. "I watch them and I just work day in and day out and just wait to see if they call me up or don't call me up to the big leagues."

Turner and Martinez, teammates in Erie, are scheduled to catch a flight back east Sunday night for Monday's first-half finale before taking part in the Eastern League All-Star game in New Hampshire. Still, the more they produce there, the more speculation arises when they might get their chance in Detroit, even at the tender age of 20.

They've taken vastly different paths up the Tigers' system. Turner was atop the team's top prospect list almost as soon as Detroit drafted him in the first round two years ago. He has done nothing to create doubt in the front office of that standing.

Turner is ranked No. 1 for the Tigers and 10th overall on MLB.com's Top Prospect list. Four of the nine players ahead of him on the list have since been called up to the big leagues.

With an open spot in Detroit, it could conceivably be Turner's time shortly. But to Turner, there's still plenty to learn.

"I think the biggest [difference] between the Major Leagues and Minor Leagues -- obviously they're extremely talented, but the consistency factor that they have, to be able to go out there on a consistent basis and do that over and over and over again, it's pretty amazing," he said.

Turner feels like he's improving at that, especially with his secondary pitches. He has honed his curveball and changeup to go with a mid-90s fastball. And with his pitch count now up toward 100, he's getting more opportunities to learn to mix them.

Turner got only nine pitches Sunday, inducing pair of popouts before giving way to Mets prospect Matt Harvey, the last player on the roster who had yet to enter the game.

"It took me two times warming up instead of one, with the rally," Turner said. "I'm not used to the bullpen. But it was fun to get out there."

Compared to Turner, Martinez's rise up the prospect ranks was sudden, starting with a solid 2010 season at Class A Lakeland. He's ranked sixth among Tigers prospects, and it clearly resonated with him to land in the Futures Game. He was smiling almost continuously from batting practice until the first pitch.

"It's a great experience for me," said Martinez, who fouled out to first as a pinch-hitter. "I'm very emotional about being able to play here, especially to play with so many Latin counterparts, so many talented players."

At the same time, he's well aware of the end goal.

"It's a good start," he said, "but it's only the start. It's all about staying consistent and making sure that you get to stay at this level [at a big league park] and not just be here for one day."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["all-star_game" ] }
{"content":["all-star_game" ] }