Coghlan, Turner know pressure isn’t helpful for Cubs’ prospects
BY TONI GINNETTI For Sun-Times Media August 10, 2014 8:54PM
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: Chris Coghlan #8 of the Chicago Cubs is safe with a triple against the Tampa Bay Rays during the seventh inningon August 10, 2014 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 477587779
Updated: September 12, 2014 6:29AM
Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan had his share of accolades as a young player, from being a top draft pick of the Florida Marlins in 2006 to winning National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2009.
And yet, when he saw Cubs prospect Kris Bryant being interviewed on national television not long ago, he was taken aback.
‘‘People didn’t even know who was in Triple-A 10 years ago,’’ said Coghlan, 29. ‘‘People didn’t know your name. Now ‘prospects’ are at an all-time high.
‘‘I feel bad for the young kids now because people are putting so much pressure on them. People try to box you in to what type of player you’re going to be. Who’s to say they won’t be great players, but it’s an unfair expectation to put them in an image of what people think they might become.’’
Pitcher Jacob Turner, just acquired by the Cubs from the Marlins, had a sterling pedigree, too, when he was the Detroit Tigers’ first-round pick in 2009. He debuted in the majors in 2011 at age 20 and was ranked the Tigers’ top prospect before the 2012 season.
He became a key player that season in a five-player deadline trade that sent him to the Marlins for pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Turner made seven starts for the Marlins by the end of 2012, but split time between the majors and minors last season.
Turner was demoted from the rotation to the bullpen this year, making him available with a 4-7 record and 5.97 ERA.
At 23, he also has learned things about ‘‘expectations.’’
‘‘Once you get to this level, everyone’s talents are close,’’ Turner said Sunday, his first day with the Cubs. ‘‘Some guys can do more — but it’s about consistency. That consistency of doing it day in and day out is what’s crucial.’’
There was no getting around the amplified anticipation that surrounded Javy Baez last week in his long-awaited Cubs debut. And as the daily grind of the game sets in, the Cubs — from the front office to players — are working to tamp down the hype.
‘‘We want Javy to trust his skill set but not feel he has to carry the team,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.
Experience is the way to learn that, but just as valuable are the lessons teammates can teach.
Coghlan knows how injuries can derail the best of plans. For him, an injury to his left knee in 2010 required surgery and lingered into 2011. He spent most of 2012 in the minors and then played in only 70 major-league games last season while sitting out almost three months with an injured right calf.
For Turner, being a touted prospect meant being part of a big trade. Coming to the Cubs means another reset for his career.
‘‘The reality is he’s got a pretty good arm, he’s pretty young and has been in the big leagues for parts of three years already,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘He hasn’t had some of the success people might have envisioned for him, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We’ll be the ones to see if we can get it going in the right direction.’’
That approach would well serve all the young players here and those on the horizon, Coghlan believes.
‘‘There has to be a grace period for them,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s just the way it goes. It’s good to get them up here and get some exposure, and then next season go with it.’’