Video: Brice Turang featured on WeNext
First-round hopeful leads like a quarterback on the baseball diamond.
Santiago (Corona, Calif.)
senior shortstop Brice Turang
is projected as a first-round pick in Monday's 2018 Major League Baseball Draft. Heading into this spring, some projections had him as the No. 1 prospect overall.
Either way, by all calculations and every measurable — the quick bat, fast feet, strong arm — he appears destined for The Bigs. That's largely because he soaked up so much when very small.
Turang is the youngest of five children, the only boy. His dad Brian played outfield for the Seattle Mariners in the early 1990s and his mom Carrie played collegiate softball at Long Beach State. His sisters Brianna, Carissa, Cabria and Bailee all were college athletes.
From softball to soccer to volleyball, the sisters excelled and competed to the highest degree, carving a path and laying a foundation for little brother to follow and thrive.
"We're all very, very competitive, but Carissa is probably the most fierce," Brice Turang said. "She goes and gets after it."
But it doesn't stop there. Turang draws much more than athleticism and a competitive edge from his immediate family. It goes way beyond that.
It's indeed been a village that has helped raise and inspire the youngest Turang.
"It's my cousins, my brothers-in-law, my grandparents — every one of them has something I wish I had in my personality," he said. "We just all feed off each other. I have a cousin in the Army. I have a cousin with Down syndrome who changes my life every day. We all bond together. I love them all to death. Every single one of them."
The depth and breadth of Turang's family may explain what makes him such a special leader and athlete, said Santiago coach Ty De Trinidad.
"I've never believed a player controlling a team on to himself — not in baseball," said De Trinidad, in his 21st season. "But Brice truly does. He brings a certain amount of calmness, almost like a quarterback to a football team. … I'm going to miss that, especially. He shows up as the extra coach in a non-aggressive way. That's hard to come by for his age.
"That's what I've been telling all the scouts. Recognizing his baseball and athletic skill is the easy part. Take a minute and talk to him off the field. That's where you're going to get sold. You're going to realize, wow, this is a complete person."
That's important to know when splitting hairs between the nation's top prospect.
Turang, a four-year starter who De Trinidad said could have started as an eighth-grader, is an LSU commit and been compared to Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. He's coming off his least productive prep season, hitting "only" .352 with five home runs, 23 runs and 21 RBIs.
His career numbers — almost identical each season previously — are impressive: 392 at-bats, 171 hits (.433 average) with 40 doubles, 14 triples, 10 homers, 115 runs and 77 RBIs.
He stole 51 bases in 59 attempts, walked 54 times, but probably most startling number is just 20 strikeouts, including once in 101 at-bats as a junior.
Turang makes contact. Most important, De Trinidad says, he connects with his teammates and the community.
"He's a great teammate," said senior pitcher Tyler Frazier
"He's someone you always look up to. .. He doesn't let any situation get too big for him."
Senior catcher Jacob Shanks
said teammates weren't jealous or put off by all the attention Turang received when scouts would arrive by the droves.
"I think everyone thought it was a cool way for all of us to get exposure," Shanks said. "Our freshman year, nobody came to our games. (This year) there's a ton more people. If anything, I'm grateful."
Besides, Frazier said, "Brice stays down to earth. He's always putting others ahead of him."
Turang had the name "Austin Gorrell" printed on his batting helmet this season in honor of the former Riverside North and University of Nevada player who died in 2015 from heart failure.
Santiago played in the fourth annual Austin Gorrell Memorial Baseball Classic and rather than just play, Turang asked questions and got involved. He did the same every time De Trinidad brought his autistic nephew into the dugout.
"Brice immediately makes him feel welcomed and part of the group," De Trinidad said. "And once Brice is involved, everyone gravitates."
The scouts gathered in bunches and took serious notes during an Area Codes workout last summer where Turang shined.
De Trinidad didn't attend the workout, but he got a call.
"A coach said Brice put on a show. Of the six pitches he saw, he knocked five out. One about knocked over the scoreboard," De Trinidad recalled.
About an hour later, Turang gave his coach a call, which he assumed was to update him on the impressive workout.
Turang wanted to take some extra batting practice and asked if De Trinidad could help pitch.
"Here he had just put on this show in front of all these scouts, but wanted to put in some extra time," the coach said. "Mind you, it was 101 degrees out here. Most guys would want to go home and relax, yet he's out here putting in extra work."
Turang learned the value of extra work watching his parents and siblings. Something really clicked in the eighth grade.
"I started to realize then I was a little better than the kids I was playing with," Turang said. "People grow and get better at different times. In my mind, I thought that it doesn't stop here. I don't stop getting better. So I just try to get better every single day, whether in day-to-day life, baseball, hitting, fielding, running, everything."
Turang said the end of his senior season and school year coinciding with the draft has been a lot to process.
"There's lots of emotions," he said. "There's happiness. There's nerves. There's sadness leaving high school. Sadness to having to mature real quick.
"But I take life day-by-day. I was given a talent and the ability to play. I live a happy life. That's all I can do."