Scouting Mets' Prospect #15: Alhaji Turay
Vital Statistics: Name: Alhaji Turay Position: Left Field DOB: September 22, 1982 Height: 6'0" Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right Alhaji Turay wowed everyone with his all around game in high school while playing for Auburn High School in a suburb of Seattle, Washington. A Preseason Third-Team All-American by Baseball America in 2000 as a rising senior, along with with the likes of the Devil Ray's B.J. Upton, Turay had an amazing stretch of hitting ten homeruns in just sixty one at-bats his senior year, earning Second Team All-American and raising his stock so much that the Mets took a chance on him in the second round of the 2001 draft, their first pick after selecting David Wright. After getting a $517,000 signing bonus as the 70th overall pick in the 2001 draft, Turay was sent to Kingsport in the rookie Appalachian League to make his professional debut. After showing glimpses of his power and speed combination, Turay was sent to the NY-Penn League in 2002 after Extended Spring Training. It was a bitter sweet year for Turay with the Cyclones that year as he was one of the more potent bats in the Brooklyn lineup but continually rubbed fans the wrong way. Allegedly ignoring fans pleas for autographs by telling them he didn't speak English, not running out ground balls at times, and pummeling a water cooler on the road in Aberdeen forced the Mets hands by suspending him for the remainder of the year despite his team-leading batting average (third in the NY-Penn League at the time). "I've been with the Mets organization since 1991 and I can count on one hand the number of times we've sent a kid home," said Jim Duquette to the Brooklyn Papers, the Mets' assistant general manager for player personnel at the time. "It is not something we do lightly. But that's an indication that there were some extreme issues." Dan Twohig, a season ticket-holder for the Cyclones told the Brooklyn Papers: "He's the Rickey Henderson of Class A baseball". With his problems of 2002 behind him, the Mets reinstated Turay and sent him to Capital City in 2003 to get back on track. He once again showed glimpses of his raw talent, stealing a career-high 14 bases for the Bombers but a series of minor leg and hand injuries cost him consistent playing time in '02. Turay, once again battling various minor injuries, put together a career year in the Florida State League in 2004 despite playing just 86 games for St. Lucie. He hit a career high 16 homeruns last year and was one of the better run producers when he was in the lineup. Marred by nagging injuries and the growing pains of a young man finding his way in professional baseball, the bottom line is Turay is a top-shelf talent. Just ask his teammates! "Haji is a guy with one of the highest ceilings I've ever seen", Matthew Lindstrom told Inside Pitch. "He has a great arm and just stupid power. I think he's going to be a special player". Year Team AVG. AB Hits HR RBI R SB BB K OBP SLG 2004 St. Lucie .256 308 79 16 44 35 11 22 81 ,313 .451 2003 Capital City .236 314 74 6 45 44 14 28 94 .324 .373 2002 Brooklyn .327 153 50 4 19 21 7 11 48 .380 .484 2001 Kingsport .245 163 40 2 20 21 8 9 46 - .368 * Stats as of 10/1/04 Batting and Power. As is the case with most young players out of high school, Turay has had a hard time making consistent contact with the bat. He has difficulty with the breaking pitches out of the zone at times and could stand to have some improvement in his pitch recognition. The only remedy for that is getting consistent at-bats and Turay has found that to be difficult with the various minor injuries he has sustained the last couple of seasons. He has the potential to hit for a higher average but just needs some more seasoning. The true name of his offensive game is his power to all fields. Turay has extraordinary power potential and projects to hit 30+ homeruns at the Major League level, even in a pitcher's park like Shea Stadium. Base Running and Speed. Turay is a gamer with good base running instincts when his head is in the game. He has been known to be a little lackadaisical running out ground balls at certain times. But when he's focused, he's an aggressive base runner with the potential to steal 10-15 bases. He's a good, but not great, base stealer and will need to improve on his 69% success rate in his minor league career. Defense. Just like his base running, when he's focused, Turay is a very good defensive player. He has good natural instincts in the outfield and has an above average arm. He can take good angles and routes on balls hit in his direction and has the ability to play all three outfield positions if called upon. He has a good enough arm to play right field, but with the likes of Ambiorix Concepcion, Jamar Hill, and Carlos Gomez in the system, Turay projects to be a top flight defensive left fielder for the Mets someday. Projection. Forget about his documented troubles in Brooklyn. Turay is a quiet guy that is beloved by many of his teammates. Chalk up his experience with the Cyclones as growing pains. He's extremely intelligent and has great baseball instincts. He's got some of the best raw tools among all the Mets' prospects and is very close to putting it all together real soon. Turay just needs to show some consistency in the mental aspects of the game and to remain healthy in order for a breakout year. He has the talent and skill to be a big time run producer for the Mets as a starting corner outfielder. His history of injuries and raw talent have drawn comparisons to Cliff Floyd, albeit a right-handed version. Remember, he just turned 22 in September and still has a lot of room to grow. ETA. 2007. Turay should break Spring Training in 2005 with the AA-Binghamton Mets, where he'll most likely remain for the whole season. Barring another injury, he should find himself in AAA-Norfolk by 2006 where he'll be a stone's throw away from Shea. He might get a cup of coffee with the Mets sooner, but Turay should be ready for the Majors by 2007 when he'll still only be 25 years old. Outfielders 2004 Team Victor Diaz AAA - Norfolk Tides Prentice Redman AAA - Norfolk Tides Jeff Duncan AA - Binghamton Mets Angel Pagan AA - Binghamton Mets Wayne Lydon AA - Binghamton Mets Ron Acuna AA - Binghamton Mets Bobby Malek AA - Binghamton Mets Alhaji Turay A - St. Lucie Mets Jonathan Slack A - St. Lucie Mets Joseph Jiannetti A - St. Lucie Mets Lastings Milledge A - Capital City Bombers Jamar Hill A - Capital City Bombers Ryan Harvey A - Capital City Bombers Rashad Parker A - Capital City Bombers Caleb Stewart A - Capital City Bombers Ambiorix Concepcion A - Brooklyn Cyclones Corey Coles A - Brooklyn Cyclones Dante Brinkley A - Brooklyn Cyclones Derran Watts A - Brooklyn Cyclones Seith Pietsch R - Kingsport Mets Carlos Gomez R - Kingsport Mets Joshua Wyrick R - Kingsport Mets Jesus Gamero R - Kingsport Mets Horace Lawrence R - Kingsport Mets Cory Wells R - Gulf Coast Mets Brahiam Maldonado R - Gulf Coast Mets Parris Austin R - Gulf Coast Mets Miguel Garcia R - Gulf Coast Mets Comments Two years ago, the Mets were really devoid of any real threat in the outfield among their prospects. They currently have a handful of legitimate outfield prospects, players that could become full-time starters at the Major League level. While Victor Diaz and Prentice Redman are the closest to the Major Leagues, Lastings Milledge, Jamar Hill, and Ambiorix Concepcion give the Mets a very athletic look in the future. The Mets could have a very, very good outfield down the road. 1) Victor Diaz - AAA-Norfolk Tides - Diaz, making the switch from second base to right field in 2004, looked pretty comfortable in the field and at the plate. There's never been a question about his bat (he has won two minor league battle titles), just his attitude and defense. It will be interesting to see if the Mets make the commitment to Diaz in their outfield after a very good AAA debut in 2004, or use him as a trading piece for an established Major League talent. 2) Prentice Redman - AAA-Norfolk Tides - Redman does a little bit of everything well. He can run, hit, hit for power, and possesses speed. The problem is he doesn't any one of them very well. His future at the Major League level is as a reserve outfielder. 3) Jeff Duncan - AA-Binghamton Mets - Once patrolling centerfield for the Mets, Duncan was demoted all the way down to AA this past season. With Cameron tied up for the next two seasons, and with Milledge right behind him (or ahead of him in many ways), Duncan needs a change of scenery with a new organization. 4) Angel Pagan - AA-Binghamton Mets - Pagan is developing into a very good reserve-type outfielder that can play all three outfield positions and can hit at the top or bottom of the lineup. He make very good contact at the plate, has excellent speed, a good arm, and brings good enthusiasm into the clubhouse. 5) Wayne Lydon - AA -Binghamton Mets - Lydon is all about the speed. With 227 stolen bases the last three seasons, Lydon's a light-hitting defensive player that has a knack for the stolen bases. His ticket to the Majors is as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner. 6) Bobby Malek - AA-Binghamton Mets - There's a reason the Mets made Malek their 4th round selection in the 2002 draft. Malek is a very good defensive player that possesses a rare combination of power and speed. After struggling last season after elbow surgery, Malek regained his college form in 2004, hitting 14 home runs and stealing 15 bases. Malek still has the potential to be a starting outfielder at the Major League level. 2005 could be a breakout year for Malek. 7) Ronald Acuna - AA - Binghamton Mets - A very good contact hitter and excellent defensive player, Acuna's lack of power is his downfall as a prospect. He has just 5 HRs in his last 1,441 minor league at-bats. He's a 4th or 5th outfielder at the Major League level. 8) Joseph Jiannetti - A-St. Lucie Mets - Originally drafted as a 3B, the Mets moved him to 2B back in 2002 and then moved him to the outfield in 2004. Jiannetti is a nice hitter with decent pop. He's got the potential to be a reserve outfielder or as a possible utility player. 9) Jonathan Slack - A-St. Lucie Mets - Slack is a good defensive centerfielder much in the same mold as Lydon. Good defensively, decent hitter, great speed, and not much power. He's got the look of a possible reserve outfielder. 10) Alhaji Turay - A - St. Lucie Mets - The talent is there. A good defensive player, Turay has big time power potential and excellent speed. He has 30-30 potential and is easily one of the Mets' best run producing prospects....WHEN HEALTHY! Turay has to put together a full, healthy season before he becomes an elite prospect, but he does have that kind of talent. 11) Jamar Hill - A - Capital City Bombers - Hill, with 26 HRs & 20 SBs in 2004, had a breakout season this past year and showing the promise he displayed in Kingsport back in 2002. If he can duplicate the same success at St. Lucie in 2005, Hill could make that leap into one of the better outfield prospects in all of baseball. 12) Lastings Milledge - A- Capital City Bombers - Already considered the Mets' top prospect after the Mets trade Scott Kazmir, Milledge had a very good first year of long-season baseball. Milledge does it all: power, speed, defense, hitting, etc. He strikes out a bit too much, but could learn more selectivity as he matures. Easily the top outfield prospect for the Mets! 13) Ryan Harvey - A - Capital City Bombers - Harvey certainly gets overlooked by many despite being a very solid outfielder. Harvey, the Bombers' lone All-Star in '04, does a little bit of everything. Currently, he has the look of a reserve outfielder at the Major League level but he could be a late bloomer much in the same manner Jason Bay was. He's one to keep an eye on. 14) Rashad Parker - A - Capital City Bombers - Parker's a defensive and speed replacement at the minor league level. There's no reason to expect anything else. 15) Caleb Stewart - A - Capital City Bombers - Stewart is a big kid that moves very well. He has a very good batting eye and decent power. He could develop into a Major League starting outfielder down the road. 16) Ambiorix Concepcion - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - The player formerly known as Roberto Solano, Concepcion is a five-tool talent that has the raw ability to be an elite outfield prospect for the Mets. Voted by Baseball America as the top prospect in the NY-Penn League this year, Concepcion reminds scouts of Vladmir Guerrero at the same point in development. 17) Corey Coles - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - Coles had a tremendous start to the 2004 season for Brooklyn and then had a disasterous finish. At 23, he's going to have to have some success at higher levels before we get too excited about him. 18) Dante Brinkley - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - Brinkley is a nice player that can do a little bit of everything. He has the look of a future reserve outfielder. 19) Derran Watts - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - Has more speed than Brinkley, a better arm, and is better defensively. But has a long way to go to become legit outfield prospect. 20) Carlos Gomez - R - Kingsport Mets - Gomez was a wide-eyed 18-year old kid playing rookie ball this past season, but has the raw talent to be a special prospect. He's got a cannon for an arm, good batting eye, and developing power. He could be atop this list next year along with Lastings Milledge and Jamar Hill as the Mets' best outfield prospects. 21) Seth Pietsch - R - Kingsport Mets - A little old for the Appy League, Pietsch is a strong kid with good power and speed. He needs to show some success at the higher levels. 22) Joshua Wyrick - R - Kingsport Mets - Wyrick, an 11th round pick in the 2004 draft, had a decent professional debut. He's a speedster with great range. 23) Jesus Gamero - R - Kingsport Mets - Has an excellent batting eye and developing power.
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