Among Turner Buis’ favorites are Carlos Beltran, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (he was born in Anaheim), the Beastie Boys, actor Will Ferrell and pizza.
What is his favorite aspect of baseball?
To that, Buis had a fairly obvious one-word answer: “Hitting.”
That really shouldn’t come as a surprise, given what Buis has done this summer as a steady-hitting outfielder for the Riverhead Tomcats.
Entering Monday’s games, Buis led the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League with a .386 batting average, a respectable distance ahead of the next two highest-ranking hitters, Eddie Haus of the Shelter Island Bucks and J. J. Shimko of the Montauk Mustangs, who were both hitting .367.
“I just like to have fun and drive balls,” Buis said. “That’s what I do. I just like to stay relaxed.”
Buis (pronounced “Buy-es”) said he likes to go after the first good pitch he sees, and that aggressive approach has served him well.
Tomcats manager Randy Caden said the problem some batters run into is overthinking, being too picky at the plate and waiting for the perfect pitch to hit instead of putting the ball in play.
Caden said Buis brings a good demeanor and positivity to the dugout. “He’s positive all the time,” Caden said. “… I’ve never seen him get down.”
Caden continued: “If he makes a mistake, he forgets about it, which you’re supposed to. … He doesn’t take his at-bats to the field and he doesn’t take his field to the at-bat. If he makes a mistake anywhere, you don’t know that.”
Caden knew he was getting a genuine player in Buis because of the school Buis is from. Buis, who lives in Fullerton, Calif., didn’t go far for college in terms of distance, but Cal State Fullerton is a nationally respected NCAA Division I power. “I’m really local around there,” he said.
This past college season, Buis went 3 for 11 in four games as a freshman for the Titans. His first college hit was a home run.
Eleven at-bats may not sound like a lot, but Caden pointed out, considering the team was Cal State Fullerton, “that is pretty good. We’ve had guys from good programs that red-shirted and they don’t even play” as freshmen.
Asked if he thinks hitters are made or born, the 6-foot, 205-pound Buis answered: “I don’t know. I’ve always been a good hitter since I was little.”
Turner Michael Buis made his mark at Fullerton High School. In his senior season, he had a .338 batting average with a .505 on-base percentage, 12 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases. He was named to the All-Freeway League second team and received Fullerton’s offensive player of the year award.
The jump from high school to college is a big one, but Caden believes Buis may have what it takes to go even further. “He has talent,” said Caden.
Buis, who bats left-handed and throws right-handed, had 38 singles, six doubles, 11 runs scored and 11 RBI in 36 games with the Tomcats. Caden said Buis’ base running could use some work, although Buis was successful on seven of his eight attempted stolen bases. In the field, he had not made an error, recording 47 putouts and two assists.
Buis went 2 for 3 for the North in its 2-1 win over the South in the HCBL All-Star Game last Wednesday night.
The HCBL experience should serve Buis well when he returns to Cal State Fullerton.
“He’ll do well,” Caden said, “and he’s helped us a lot.”
[Photo caption: Riverhead outfielder Turner Buis rips a base hit in the first inning of last Wednesday’s all-star game. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)]