Nicole Hill can still picture her 8-year-old son eating his breakfast and watching baseball highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
“Most kids would be watching cartoons, but Turner has always loved baseball,” she says. “Now he’s getting to live out his dream.”
This summer, Turner Hill ’22 has been a welcome surprise for the San Jose Giants, a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. With the California League playoffs scheduled to start in six days (September 12), Turner has been playing his best baseball of the season.
“It just takes time to get used to everything. There’s a learning curve at every level,” Turner says. “You just don’t know how to handle everything until you have some experience. I am now getting accustomed to playing every day. What I have noticed is the game has slowed down some for me over the past couple of months.”
He put up his best numbers in July and August. In July, his slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) was .338/.433/.377 — up from June when it was .224/.306/.298. He also had 10 stolen bases in July and currently has 23 on the year.
Mainly hitting from the lead-off spot, Turner remained hot at the plate in August with another strong slash line of .323/.420/.448, which featured 10 multiple-hit games and a 5-for-6 performance that included a double and a triple in an 11-3 victory over Inland Empire. He also played two games for Class AAA Sacramento when the squad needed someone to play after an injury. Turner showed out, going 4-for-8 with a double and triple.
“The biggest adjustment was the day-in and day-out level of competition,” Turner says. “There are no easy pitchers at this level, so you must be able to bring your ‘A’ game every single day and on every single pitch.”
After graduating from Marietta in 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance, Turner signed with the West Virginia Black Bears of the MLB Draft League. He torched the pitchers in the league, hitting .391 in 37 games.
The San Francisco Giants organization took notice, signing Hill just before he was set to open the season with the Washington Wild Things of the independent Frontier League.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity the Giants have given me,” he says. “I have a lot of things to work on to get better. I would like my power numbers to be better. This offseason, I am going to try to get myself bigger, stronger, and faster.”
A two-time All-American at Marietta, Turner started his college career at NCAA Division II Malone College. Turner says he hasn’t strayed from what he learned as a member of the Etta Express and plays the game the same way he did for Coach Brian Brewer.
“I try to make contact, cut down on strikeouts, make plays in the field, and steal some bases,” he says. “Marietta College is one of the best programs in the country and it has had success with guys playing at the next level. The program’s culture and philosophy have helped me with the success I am having right now.”
Marietta coach Brian Brewer always knew Turner had the ability and work ethic to succeed at the next level.
“We are so proud of what Turner accomplished at MC and what he has done since graduating,” Brewer says. “Turner is a plus defender and plus offensive player that has tremendous instincts and toughness. Turner can do it all with one exception, and that is hit for power. As long as his organization realizes what type of player they have, the sky is the limit for Turner Hill.”
Nicole and her husband, Steve, spent a week in San Jose visiting their son and watching him play baseball.
“This was the longest we have ever gone without seeing him, so we were really excited and nervous at the same time walking into Excite Ball Park,” says Nicole, who is the Admissions Data Coordinator at the College. “Hearing your son’s name called and watching him take the field in a Giants uniform was special. It was the first time we watched Turner face a pitcher throwing over 100 miles per hour. Seeing him hit a line drive on a 101-mile-per-hour fastball was awesome. Also, the churros at Excite Ball Park are delicious!”
Getting to see his parents was important for Turner.
“They’ve always been my No. 1 supporters,” he says. “I still talk to them two to three times a day because they are my support system.”
His parents were not the only Marietta visitors Turner connected with this summer.
John Wharff, the radio announcer for Marietta College baseball, traveled to nearby Los Gatos, California, to visit his son JB, who had a summer internship with UBS Financial Services and Marietta Trustee Andrew Ferguson ’95.
“For as many tickets as I have the opportunity to get for people, what a great surprise to get a text from Turner on game day, offering to leave me tickets to the game for the family at Player Will Call,” Wharff says. “We sat in the shade of the parents and player family section and had a great night.”
As the league playoffs approach, Hill aims to finish strong and relish the chance to compete for a championship. It’s an experience he won’t forget anytime soon.
“It would be cool to play for a minor league championship,” he says. “That would be a really cool experience to tell my kids and grandkids one day.”
And maybe one day, some kid will be watching Turner’s highlights on SportsCenter.