2022 Vancouver Canadians shortstop Michael Turconi steps into the batter’s box in the latest edition of C’s Chat.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Turconi attended Blackhawk High School in Beaver Falls just 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh where he lettered in baseball all four years he was there and lettered twice in golf. A left-handed hitter, Turconi never batted lower than .380 over his four seasons with the Blackhawks, putting up batting averages of .523 and .571 in his junior and senior seasons. Turconi was just as impressive on the mound as he struck out 23 batters over 14 innings, collected eight saves and did not allow an earned run in his junior campaign. He followed that up with a 5-1 record with a 0.71 ERA and rung up 70 batters over 39-1/3 innings in his 2018 senior year.
Baseball America rated Turconi as the 19th-best prospect from the state of Pennsylvania for the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft but he was not selected and would go to Wake Forest University instead. His freshman season of 2019 saw him record an on-base percentage of .379 before tapping into a bit more power in summer college ball in Amsterdam, New York. There he batted .300 with a .458 slugging percentage in 37 games with the Amsterdam Mohawks of the Perfect Game League. He also pitched 1-2/3 innings and struck out four batters with a 0.00 ERA.
The pandemic-shortened 2020 season saw Turconi hit .351 with a .487 OBP in 18 games for the Demon Deacons. He remained in the state of North Carolina for more summer college ball experience with the High-Point/Thomasville HiToms where he slashed .344/.452/.563 with 13 extra-base hits in 26 contests. Joe Healy of D1Baseball.com liked what he saw of Turconi.
Turconi’s power continued to emerge in 2021 in Winston-Salem. He slugged .480 over 42 games, thanks in part to a three-home run game against the University of Pittsburgh on May 20 with his last two homers leaving the yard at over 100 miles per hour. Driving in six runs that day, that effort helped Turconi win the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week. He joined the Williamsport Crosscutters of the MLB Draft League but batted just .215 in 22 games though his OBP was 104 points higher.
After going undrafted in 2021, Turconi went back to Wake Forest for his redshirt junior season in 2022. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage cleared the 1.000 barrier by six points as he clubbed 15 homers, nearly double his 2021 total of eight, over 61 games. His most memorable home run was a walk-off shot against Clemson on May 16.
The cherry on top of Turconi’s four-year college career came when Wake Forest honoured him with the Ron and Linda Wellman Lifetime Teammate Award.
Demon Deacons coach Tom Walter had nothing but good things to say about his shortstop.
Wearing number 6 at the six-spot for the Demon Deacons, perhaps it was fitting that Turconi was drafted by Toronto, the city known as ‘The Six’, as he was taken by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2022 MLB Draft. Scouted by Nate Murrie, Turconi received a $75,000 signing bonus before reporting to Dunedin, Florida.
In his first professional at-bat, Turconi singled on the second pitch he saw against the Tampa Tarpons on August 9. He drove in two runs with a base hit in his next at-bat and would also draw a walk and score a run. Turconi then went deep for the first time as a pro in just his second game against Tampa on August 10 and reached base three times again with a single and a walk. On August 17, Turconi had a pair of hits which included a 10th-inning base knock and scored the winning run to walk off Jupiter. He was batting .306 after his penultimate game with Dunedin but an 0-for-5 performance n August 28 in Bradenton dropped his batting average to .278. Turconi would still get the call to go to Vancouver and he arrived at Spokane in time to help the C’s in a crucial seven-game series that would eventually propel Monty’s Mounties to the postseason.
Just like with Dunedin, Turconi singled on the second Northwest League pitch he saw in his first at-bat with Vancouver on August 30. That was the start of a six-game hitting streak in which he recorded a pair of two-hit games on September 1 and September 2, drawing a walk in the latter contest. He also contributed a walk and a stolen base against Eugene in the C’s playoff clinching win on September 7.
After batting .281 with a .410 OBP in 11 games with Vancouver, Turconi went 3-for-7 in Games 2 and 3 of the Northwest League final which included a two-hit effort, a walk and two runs in Game 3 at Nat Bailey Stadium against Eugene.
Showing a good eye at the plate, Baseball America lauded Turconi for another aspect of his game when assessing Toronto’s 2022 draft class.
C’s Plus Baseball was able to chat with Turconi near the tail end of the 2022 regular season. This interview has been edited for clarity.
C’s Plus Baseball – You were drafted out of Wake Forest. What was your draft day experience like?
Michael Turconi – A pretty stressful day. I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen. I actually had no idea I even got drafted until my buddy texted me. So it was pretty cool. It was fun to share that experience with my family and my friends.
CPB – Were you in North Carolina at the time?
MT – No, I was actually home in Pittsburgh with my family. I was kind of watching but not really watching and then it finally came. It was pretty exciting.
CPB – Did you have any idea it was going to be the Blue Jays who were interested in you?
MT – I had a little bit of an idea, you know. I was talking to the area scout with the Blue Jays but I was just keeping my eyes open. Just keeping an open mind throughout the whole thing.
CPB – How did you wind up at Wake Forest? Were there other colleges that were interested in you at the time?
MT – Yeah, there were some other colleges but I made a decision based not just off of baseball. I made it based off of baseball and academics and I knew going to Wake Forest, it’s a top 25 academic school and top 25 baseball program in the ACC. So I knew I was gonna get the best of both worlds in that aspect. If baseball doesn’t work out then, I always have my Wake Forest degree to back me up.
CPB – What did you take?
MT – I got a communications degree.
CPB – Do you think about maybe getting in to broadcasting or something like that down the line?
MT – I don’t know. I took a broadcasting class in college. It was pretty cool but I really wanna see how far I can take this, so I’m not really worried about that right now.
CPB – Going back to your time with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. What was your time like there?
MT – My time there was awesome. I spent four years there. Covid messed up a year but it was awesome. The relationships I’ve made and the bonds and the culture and everything I learned there is awesome because they really prepare you for the next level. I don’t regret making that decision to go there and it’s really prepared me.
CPB – Who’s helped you out the most during your baseball career?
MT – I’d probably say my Dad is always there. I wouldn’t say he’s the most baseball-knowledge guy but he did everything in his power to help me and really guide me and teach me to become the person that I am today on and off the field.
CPB – After you got drafted, you go to the draft camp. What was that whole experience like?
MT – It was cool. I got to come in, experience everything, you know, the Blue Jays Way and really got to create a really good bond and culture with the draft guys which made it an easy transition moving into pro ball. I think having that bond and culture for those two weeks was really good and just being able to create relationships just kind of made it easier moving forward.
CPB – Take us through what a typical day is at the draft camp.
MT – A lot of orientation, a lot of meetings, just kind of getting used to pro ball, you know, and just having guys come in, talk to us and then you go into your baseball work and lifting and eat and then you go home.
CPB – I’m sure you had a chance to check out the Player Development Complex. What did you think of it?
MT – It’s amazing. It’s by far way better than college. Just looking at the weight room and all the resources that they have for your development and how you develop moving forward. Those resources are there and it’s all amazing.
CPB – Can you take us through maybe how it’s helped you out?
MT – I’m still getting used to using those things. In the past I’ve never really used them so right now I’m just trying to use them to my full advantage and just trying to get as much information as possible just to help me develop into the player I want to be.
CPB – Is it a case of ‘Well, there’s a lot of information,’ but sometimes it can be too much information?
MT – Yeah. But you know, the staff there is amazing and they really helped breaking things down so it’s really good.
CPB – You get assigned to Dunedin and it looked like you adapted pretty well to your first exposure to pro ball.
MT – Yeah, it was fun. It was, like I said, you know, having the relationships and culture that we built over that two weeks at draft camp, it made the transition really easy. Dunedin’s coaching staff is great. The players are great overall. It was a really good experience and it was really fun there.
CPB – Anything that stands out for you when it comes to maybe your best game or best moment there with the D-Jays?
MT – I don’t really think I had like a best performance but I think I was pretty consistent there, you know, just trying to have fun playing.
CPB – You get the call to go to Vancouver with Devereaux Harrison. How did you find out about it?
MT – After the game, the manager (Donnie Murphy) pulled me in the office and said, ‘Hey, you’re going to Vancouver.’ I was really excited, you know. I heard they were in a playoff race, I just couldn’t wait to get here and be a part of it.
CPB – How have you found it playing here at Nat Bailey Stadium with much bigger crowds here than in Dunedin?
MT – Yeah, it’s awesome. It definitely feels a little bit different than Dunedin. You got the whole atmosphere. Fans are amazing here, you know, it’s just different. It’s cool. I’m not used to really playing in front of a lot of fans, you know. In the ACC there would be a lot but not as much as here. But you know, it’s just pretty surreal. Just thinking a couple months ago, I wasn’t even playing professional baseball and now I’m here in front of 6,000-plus fans, which is awesome all cheering on the Canadians.
CPB – It seems like you’ve made the adjustments pretty well so far. Have you noticed a huge difference from the Florida State League to the Northwest League?
MT – Yeah, I think the pitching is definitely a little bit better just stuff-wise, you know, off speeds and fastballs, just kind of having a limited number of pitches to hit. But as you move up, I think that’s what you’re gonna see so I’m up for the challenge.
CPB – How would you describe yourself as a player if you had to give a scouting report on yourself?
MT – I would describe myself as a consistent guy just out there, just playing hard and giving a hundred percent and just trying to have fun.
CPB – When you step in the batter’s box, what’s your approach?
MT – I just trying to have a mature bat and catch a barrel. It’s simple.
CPB – Growing up in Pittsburgh, were you a Pirates fan?
MT – Pirates, Steelers, Penguins, everything Pittsburgh.
CPB – Did you have a favourite player?
MT – I wouldn’t really say I had a favourite player. I was a big Adam Frazier guy until they traded him, but you know, it’s kind of hard to root for ’em sometimes because they always trade away their players. (Laughs) But I wouldn’t really say I have a favourite player. I just liked the Pirates.
CPB – They have PNC Park, the most beautiful park in the majors.
MT – It is a beautiful stadium which is awesome.
CPB – Do you have any superstitions?
MT – Not really, no. Sometimes if things are going really well, I try to wear the same thing or I try to eat the same thing but I switch things up, you know, I’m not really stuck on one thing,
CPB – As far as defense goes, I know you’ve been all over the infield. How do you find that’s been going so far at the pro level?
MT – I think it’s been going pretty well. In Dunedin, I was playing second base, third base, shortstop and I never really played those positions before except for shortstop. But I’m very open minded, you know, wherever they want me to play, I’ll play. I just wanna be in the lineup and do anything to help the team win.
CPB – Do you have a certain routine that you like to go through every day? Getting ready for a game?
MT – I like to stretch a lot and then obviously do some little bit of infield work. Maybe sometimes getting the cage early, depending on how my body feels. I’m very body-dependent and just seeing how I feel that day, you know. I wouldn’t say anything specific except for kind of just like the stretching and defence before.
CPB – What have you learned so far about being a professional baseball player?
MT – You really gotta set your mind to it. You know, it’s every day you’re playing games. Not like in college where you play three games and have a couple days off. So here, it’s just kind of getting in that mindset where every day is a new day and you can really put all your focus into it. Whereas in college, you know, you had a lot of other things going on off the field. But here you can get into a more consistent mindset of how you prepare and how you want to do things each and every day.
CPB – Final question. What is it that you like to do away from the park?
MT – After a game basically just hang out. We get done pretty late here so I try and get as much sleep as possible. When the season’s over, I’ll probably go home and I do a lot of hunting and fishing. Those things that keep my mind off of other things, you know. It kind of just relaxes me, you know, I really enjoy being in the outdoors.
Michael Turconi File
- Born – June 24, 1999 in Pittsburgh, PA
- Height/Weight – 5-foot-11, 185 pounds
- Bats/Throws – Left/Right
- Uniform Numbers – Wore number 6 with Wake Forest and number 7 with the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2022.
- Instagram – @michael_turconi
- Twitter – @turconi6
- Now You Know – Turconi is the first player from Wake Forest to join the C’s since pitcher Donnie Sellers in 2017.
- The More You Know – Turconi was a high school teammate of two-way player Brendan McKay, the fourth pick of the 2017 MLB Draft by Tampa Bay.
Thanks a million again to Michael Turconi and C’s broadcaster Tyler Zickel for piecing together this episode of C’s Chat.