Prospect Turner playing CF for first time at Triple-A

Prospect Turner playing CF for first time at Triple-A

WASHINGTON -- Shortstop prospect Trea Turner will see some time at a new position as the Nationals figure out how to get him to the big leagues as soon as possible.

Turner -- who ranks as the Nationals' No. 2 prospect and the ninth-best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com -- started in center field for the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs on Monday in what is his first professional appearance at the position.

Turner has played only in the middle infield since being drafted in 2014 but is blocked in Washington by likely All-Star Daniel Murphy and hot-hitting Danny Espinosa. The position switch could accelerate Turner's return to the Majors, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.

"We feel that offensively he's Major League ready," Rizzo said. "Danny's playing extremely well at shortstop up here. We've got a full roster of really qualified quality players at the big league level, but he's a guy that we would like to see here in the big leagues."

Turner was a late-season callup in 2015, and he started one game for the Nationals earlier this month while Ryan Zimmerman was on paternity leave. He went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk but was sent back to Triple-A when Zimmerman re-joined the team.

Espinosa has been one of the Nationals' hottest hitters, belting seven home runs during June. And with Ben Revere and Michael Taylor struggling, center field has become a bigger hole for the Nationals than shortstop.

Rizzo emphasized that the team still considers Turner a shortstop long term, but that versatility would only help his value.

"We figured to get him in the big leagues sooner rather than later, we need to make him more versatile," Rizzo said. "We thought about it a week or so ago. We implemented it when our outfield instructor Gary Thurman went over to Triple-A, and he's been doing it for three or four days now."

Alex Putterman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.