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Marlins see upside in former prospect Turner

Brinson impressing Mattingly with determination to improve
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Four years later, Jacob Turner is hoping to make a more lasting impression with the Marlins.

In his second stint with the organization, the right-hander is in a familiar Spring Training setting, but under different circumstances. Once rated one of the top prospects in the game, Turner is now a non-roster invitee who is in the mix for a starting rotation spot.

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Four years later, Jacob Turner is hoping to make a more lasting impression with the Marlins.

In his second stint with the organization, the right-hander is in a familiar Spring Training setting, but under different circumstances. Once rated one of the top prospects in the game, Turner is now a non-roster invitee who is in the mix for a starting rotation spot.

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"Baseball is a weird game," said Turner, who allowed two hits and struck out one over 2 2/3 scoreless frames in Miami's 3-2 win over the Mets on Thursday. "There's a lot of guys who have had ups and downs, and then it clicks for them. I think on an individual level, you're always trying to get better. Whatever that is getting better is for you, that's what my focus is."

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Since breaking in with the Tigers in 2011, Turner has been part of five organizations, and he returns to Miami, where he pitched from 2012-14, without the guarantee of a roster spot. Still, he has a chance to win a rotation spot or perhaps factor into a long-relief role.

Turner logged 39 innings in 18 appearances (two starts) with the Nationals last season, and he's also pitched for the Cubs and White Sox. In 97 big league appearances, he has a 5.09 ERA.

Video: MIA@NYM: Turner strikes out den Dekker to end 5th

For all the stops he's made in his career, Turner is just 26 years old, and the Marlins still see upside. His fastball is reaching 94 mph early in camp, which is a sign he still has stuff.

"It's not so much what we're seeing, but what we think is there," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, there's opportunity. He's a guy who has been around a little bit. He's still young. The ball still comes out of his hand [well]."

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If Turner can establish himself in Spring Training, he could wind up on the Opening Day roster. One reason the Marlins aren't actively searching for a veteran starter to aid in the development of the younger pitchers is because the organization wants to see if Turner can assume that role.

"I've got a lot better understanding of what I'm trying to accomplish when I'm on the mound," Turner said. "That's probably the biggest difference. Sometimes when you come up so young, you don't really understand all the ins and outs of what it takes to be consistent at this level, over the course of six months, seven months with Spring Training. So I think understanding what it takes for you to be successful individually is critical."

Camp battles
Lewis Brinson, whom MLB Pipeline ranks as the Marlins' top prospect and the No. 27 prospect overall, has yet to lock up an Opening Day roster spot, but the 23-year-old has been a standout in a group of young outfielders. Brinson, Magneuris Sierra and Braxton Lee are in the mix to be big league regulars. Lee has yet to make his big league debut, while Sierra, Miami's No. 7 prospect, has minimal MLB playing time and is just 21 years old.

"Out of our young outfielders, to me, [Brinson] is more advanced," Mattingly said.

Video: Mattingly expects Brinson to live up to the hype

Brinson has stood out in places like batting practice, where he is fine-tuning his swing and not just looking to develop his power.

"He's working on stuff in BP," Mattingly said. "He makes good reads in outfield. He's another guy with a good attitude about working and getting better. There's been no pushback of like, 'I'm ready.' It's been more of continued development."

Injury update
Reliever Jumbo Diaz (right hamstring tightness) threw live batting practice on Wednesday, and he could be back on the mound in a game-like situation on Saturday.

"I've always liked Jumbo's stuff," Mattingly said.

Quotable
"Whatever, left, right or first. If they want to throw me at catcher, maybe my body won't handle that. Just anything to help the team. Anything you need to do, wherever my name is in the lineup." -- Garrett Cooper, who played left field and homered on Thursday, on trying to win a roster spot

Video: MIA@NYM: Cooper crushes solo homer to center field

Up next
The Marlins will be back on the road on Friday, with a trip to Lakeland, Fla., to take on the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET. Zac Gallen, the club's No. 14-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will get the start. Brinson and Sierra will also make the trip, and Derek Dietrich will be in left field. Listen on Gameday Audio or an exclusive audio webcast.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Jacob Turner