MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Nationals call up speedster Turner

Nats' No. 2 prospect will fill roster spot as Zimmerman goes on paternity leave

Nationals call up speedster Turner

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have added blazing speed to their roster. Shortstop Trea Turner joined the Nationals on Friday for their game against the Reds, while Ryan Zimmerman, whose wife gave birth to the couple's second child on Thursday, was placed on the paternity list.

Turner, the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals system according to MLBPipeline.com, is having an excellent season for Triple-A Syracuse, hitting .310 with three home runs, 24 RBIs, 17 stolen bases and a .376 on-base percentage. It remains to be seen if he starts against the Reds. If he does, Turner will likely play second base, which he has done in three games for Syracuse this season. Daniel Murphy would move to first base during Zimmerman's absence.

Turner started Spring Training competing with Danny Espinosa for the starting shortstop job, but Turner was sent down at the end of camp because he needed to improve his defensive skills and work on hitting breaking balls. Turner vowed he would go to Syracuse with a great attitude, which he has.

Top Prospects: Turner, WSH

"I get to play every day [in Syracuse], make the most of it, have fun," Turner said then.

Turner has been in professional baseball since 2014, when he was selected by the Padres in the first round of the Draft. Six months later, Turner was part of a three-team trade that sent outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Rays, Wil Myers to the Padres and right-hander Joe Ross to the Nationals. Because Turner was drafted in '14, he wasn't eligible to join the Nationals until June of last year.

Meanwhile, Zimmerman said as recently as Sunday that he was excited to be a father again.

"Anyone who has had the opportunity to have kids, it's challenging, it's hard, but you watch them grow up and help them," Zimmerman said. "Me and my wife are lucky to be in the situation that we are in. We are able to give them a great opportunity and a great life."

Zimmerman, one of the mainstays on the Nationals, is hitting .250 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs.

Zinkie on Trea Turner

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB) 

Turner possesses Major League-ready plate skills, as evidenced by his .310/.376/.472 slash line at Triple-A Syracuse this season. And having successfully converted all 17 of his stolen-base attempts in 2016, the 22-year-old also projects as someone who can help mixed-league teams that need a speed boost. Middle infielders who can contribute at the plate and on the bases are rare commodities on the waiver wire, which means that smart fantasy owners will add Turner right away -- even though the Nats may send him down once Zimmerman returns from the paternity list. With Danny Espinosa sporting a .200/.296/.341 slash line, Turner could get his shot as the club's starting shortstop at some point in June.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.