Infield prospect Turner among roster moves

Infield prospect Turner among roster moves

VIERA, Fla. -- There were glimpses during Spring Training of why prospect Trea Turner ascended quickly through two organizations: the speed and agility that could make him a premier threat on the basepaths; the swing and approach at the plate that project him as a top-of-the-order hitter; and the range and quickness on defense that could make him a fixture in the Nationals' middle infield in the near future.

Turner, who is rated by as the Nationals' No. 2 prospect and No. 11 overall, was one of seven players sent to the Minors on Monday, as the club trimmed its roster down to 32. That number includes a pair of injured pitchers in Aaron Barrett and Bronson Arroyo.

Turner and right-hander Rafael Martin were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, while left-hander Aaron Laffey, outfielder Tony Campana, right-hander Nick Masset, infielder Scott Sizemore and catcher Jhonatan Solano were reassigned to Minor League camp.

"[Turner] had a good attitude about it," manager Dusty Baker said. "Everybody we called in here had a great attitude about it. They know that they played well, and they know we gave them a pretty good shot to show what they can do."

The 22-year-old infielder entered spring in a competition for the starting shortstop job, but the Nationals decided early on that they were comfortable starting the season with Danny Espinosa, who is superior on defense. They preferred to give Turner regular at-bats in Triple-A, where he has only played 48 games in his short Minor League career, instead of keeping him in the Majors in a bench role. Turner did hit .314/.353/.431 last season at Syracuse, which was good enough for a promotion to the Majors last August.

Monday's moves offered some clarity to the battles for the final spots on the Nationals roster. Washington figures to have one more bench spot open between Brendan Ryan, Reed Johnson, Matt den Dekker and Chris Heisey. After Baker announced on Monday that right-hander Matt Belisle made the team, it leaves three relievers -- Trevor Gott, Blake Treinen and Sean Burnett -- trying to crack the Opening Day bullpen.

Jamal Collier is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.