Spencer Torkelson is the No. 1 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft
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Spencer Torkelson is the No. 1 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft

By Tommy Fradenburg

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See @tommyfradenburg

The Detroit Tigers made history when they selected Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson with the top pick of the 2020 MLB draft on Wednesday night.

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Torkelson is the first college first baseman to earn top draft pick distinction; and is also the first ever right-handed first baseman (high school or college) to go that early.

Despite this historical moment, the Tigers hope it is one of his only achievements at first base; as they chose Torkelson with the hope he could play across the diamond at third.

“We know he can play first, but our scouts strongly feel that he can play third base, and that’s our intent at this point,” said general manager Al Avila. “He’s exactly the type of player we hoped would be there with the first pick. At this point, we’re going to send him out as a third baseman.”

While Torkelson never played the hot corner during his college days; he spent some time there during his youth career and said he doesn’t mind the transition as a pro.

“He’s exactly the type of player we hoped would be there with the first pick. At this point, we’re going to send him out as a third baseman,” he said.

“You give me a bat and a glove, and I just want to win. That’s it.”

While Torkelson may have a couple “firsts,” to his name before setting foot on a professional field, he isn’t the first stud first baseman the Tigers have tried at third.

In 2012 Miguel Cabrera made the move to make room for new slugger Prince Fielder, a change that suited Cabrera well. That year he won the American League triple crown; leading the American league in batting average (.330), home runs (44), and runs batted in (139).

Who Is Spencer Torkelson

Torkelson is a 6’2″, 215-pound native of Petaluma, Calif and a Muti-sport athlete at Casa Grande High School.He wasn’t drafted out of high school, and instead played two full seasons at Arizona State before COIVD-19 brought his junior year and college career to an unexpected conclusion.

In 448 at-bats,he finished his time at ASU with a .337 career batting average and .443 one base percentage. At 54- career home runs, he sat just two behind the all-time school record.

As a freshman he set a school record for most home runs by a first year player; passing a mark set by some guy named Barry Bonds with 25. His 23 homers as a sophomore made him just the third player in Pac-12 history to record consecutive 20 dinger seasons.

He’s also shown a good eye at the plate over his career as well; leading the nation with 31 walks in 17 games before the abrupt end of the season.

Torkelson’s explosive college numbers rocketed him up team draft boards; but his summers in the prestigious Cape Cod League also helped. He played 30 contests in the wooden bat league featuring the best college players from around the country; posting a .340 average and another nine home runs.

“He’s one of the most polished hitters we’ve seen in the draft for quite some time, showing plus-plus power and excellent plate discipline,” said Tigers amateur scouting director Scott Pleis.

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“We’ve been tracking Spencer’s growth and performance since his breakout freshman season at Arizona State, and are excited to see him grow in the coming years.”

In a normal year Torkelson, might have made upwards of $8 million as the top pick in the draft; but between alternate measures from the league due to COVID-19 and his agent Scott Boras that number hasn’t been decided yet.

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