The messages came through the other day from Dante Turgeon’s Twitter account, with a note enclosed that he’d hit two home runs in the first game of his high school team’s doubleheader.
You’d want to show them off too if you could hit the ball that far, of course.
Sure enough, the video followed shortly thereafter of two big bombs by the Arizona-based slugger, showing off the kind of power that earned him a college commitment to his “number one school” at Arizona State, and has his name firmly in the discussion for the more intriguing prep bats in the upcoming 2022 MLB Draft.
“It’s been my dream school since I ever started playing baseball, so just to get the opportunity to put on that uniform and be able to go out and play in that stadium, it’s going to be so amazing and such an awesome feeling,” Turgeon told FutureStarsSeries.com in a recent Zoom conversation.
“There’s tons of camps and showcases that I’d attended, and I didn’t really have a lot of opportunities to get in front of ASU. But, with the new staff coming in, I decided to hop into a camp in late September, and performed well there and made conversation with the coaches and got to know the staff. They came and saw me play in the fall a little bit, and it progressed from there.”
Turgeon was largely pitched around at his appearance at the 2021 New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series National Combine — held this past summer in Lake Charles, Louisiana — drawing three walks in his four plate appearances. Despite a perhaps frustrating showing on the field, the takeaways from it were still both enriching and numerous.
“That was an amazing experience, and I’m glad I was able to attend it last year,” he said. “It opened lots of opportunities, and it was great to play with and against top players in the country. Me personally, I’d never been to the Southeast, so it was awesome to see the different atmosphere and play on those beautiful fields. It was an awesome feeling and an awesome experience.”
He’s since subsequently appeared at the recent Phoenix Regional Combine, and the 6-foot-3, 205 pound corner infielder/outfielder already took big strides in his game since this past summer. Most notably, he’s put a big emphasis on becoming faster and showing he’s a more complete player than he’s typically given credit for.
“For me, my biggest weakness is my speed,” he said. “I’ve been working on that in the gym every day, working on speed and agility and trying to shave down that 60 (yard dash) time as much as possible for any pre-draft combines or anything coming up in the future. Yes, the bat’s going to play, but the coach will tell you, ‘Hey, we like your bat, but you need to play another spot or position,’ because some dude might have first base locked up or something. So, I’ve been working on my speed and just trying to be as athletic as possible so I can play any position the coaches need me to play whether that’s left field, right field, third base, anything.”
That’s entailed working on a lot of explosive lifts, box jumps, sled pushes and the like, not to mention something as simple as just sticking to the fundamentals when running.; for example, he’s worked on emphasizing a strong start and putting together long, smooth strides afterwards. At the National Combine, Turgeon ran roughly a 7.4 in the 60-yard dash, and has already cut three tenths of a second off of that mark since then as he strives towards getting into the six-second bracket.
“It’s a great feeling and definitely drives me to want to do more and continue to work at it so I can achieve that goal of sub-seven,” he said.
Becoming a more well-rounded player will certainly help Turgeon in his next step, whatever that may be. That his name likely will be called a few months from now at the Draft is very much so a possibility, and one that hasn’t escaped him.
“Right now, my biggest mindset is just focusing on senior year,” he said. “We have an amazing roster this year, and I feel like we really have an opportunity to make it far. But after high school, I’m definitely working towards my goal of hearing my name in the Draft. That’s a big priority. Then it’s just staying sharp for college ball and continuing to work on my swing, work on fielding, work on my speed. I try to just focus on things one day at a time, I’m not thinking too far ahead. I’m still thinking about it, but not to where I don’t perform (on any given day). But it’s focusing right now on the season and afterwards, focus on being able to put a good swing on upper 80’s, low 90’s and just being able to play the game and have fun with it.”
Although he didn’t get to show it quite the way he’d liked at the National Combine — electing for strong plate discipline over swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone is certainly fine, of course — Turgeon says that being in those environments where he’s facing some of the better amateur arms in the country has been beneficial to him as he prepares for what’s ahead in his career.
“It prepares me a lot,” he said. “Being able to play with and against those top players in the country really showed me things that I need to work on, but then things that I’m looking forward to; just being in that atmosphere of high-level baseball is just so much fun. I really can’t wait for the summer to see everything that happens and what new doors open up, but still continuing on everything I need to do to improve.”
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