Whether he’s here to stay or not, Washington Nationals will get glimpse of what Trea Turner can bring to the table

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Mar 21, 2016; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner (7) runs off the field in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Space Coast Stadium. The Washington Nationals won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2016; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner (7) runs off the field in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Space Coast Stadium. The Washington Nationals won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /
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With Ryan Zimmerman on the paternity list, Washington Nationals prospect Trea Turner is in the starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds.

Washington Nationals shortstop prospect Trea Turner — one of the most exciting young prospects in the game — is in the starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Reds.

The 22-year-old will be making his long awaited 2016 debut under somewhat unusual circumstances. While many expected Turner to join the big league roster at some point this season, the Nationals accelerated his call-up since Ryan Zimmerman, whose wife, Heather, is expecting their second child soon, is headed on the paternity list.

Zimmerman can stay on the paternity list for up to three days, so it’s likely that Turner’s will be headed back to Triple-A Syracuse after this weekend. Nevertheless, the Nationals will get another glimpse of what Turner can bring to the big league club over the next few days.

Since the Nationals acquired Turner from the Padres last year, the speedy infielder has been considered the team’s shortstop of the future. Some even hoped Turner would make the big league roster out of Spring Training after he dominated in the minors in 2015, where he hit a combined .322 with eight homers and 54 RBIs with the Nationals’ and Padres’ Double-A affiliates.

But with gold-glove caliber infielder Danny Espinosa available to fill the hole left by Ian Desmond, there was no need to rush Turner. The shortstop started the season with Triple-A Syracuse, where he’s dominated all year long — batting .310 with a .376 on-base percentage, 24 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

Whether it’s this weekend, in a few weeks or after the All-Star break, Turner will eventually earn a call-up that’ll keep him in the big leagues for good. And this weekend, the Nationals will get a preview of what Turner can bring to the table.

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Manager Dusty Baker wasted no time in throwing Turner into the action, placing him in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for tonight’s game and at second base. The move forced the Nationals to move Daniel Murphy to first base, but it allowed them to keep Murphy and the suddenly hot-hitting Espinosa in the lineup while also allowing Turner to take advantage of his brief stay in the majors.

Once Turner is with the big league club for good, he’ll likely be the team’s everyday shortstop. He’ll provide the Nationals with a spark at the top of the lineup that they’ve be missing all season, and he’ll also give the team the kind of speed on the base paths that can make a ball club go from “great” to “championship-caliber.”

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It won’t be long before Turner is in a Nationals uniform for good. This weekend, the team and their fans will get a glimpse of the future — a future that is getting closer and closer every day.

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