Alex Kielar | May 31st, 2020
The Major League Baseball amateur draft will begin on June 10th at 7pm ET. We begin our series of MLB draft profiles with a player who many project to be the first pick overall: Spencer Torkelson
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
Weight: 215 lbs
2018 Stats: 55 G, .320/.440/.743, 25 HR, 53 RBI, 59 R, 38 BB, 44 SO, 4 SB
2019 Stats: 57 G, .351/.446/.707, 23 HR, 66 RBI, 69 R, 41 BB, 45 SO, 1 SB
2020 Stats (Prior to cancellation): 17 G, .340/.598/.780, 6 HR, 11 RBI, 24 R, 31 BB, 15 SO, 2 SB
Spencer Torkelson was born on August 26, 1999, in Petaluma, CA. “Tork” was a three-sport star at Casa Grande High School, playing basketball and football in addition to baseball. He committed to Arizona State after putting up a .430 average, hitting 11 home runs, and driving in 99 runs during his high school career. Torkelson didn’t waste any time when he got to ASU, and his 25 homers were a Pac-12 record for home runs by a freshman and broke a school record for home runs by a freshman held by Barry Bonds.
He was named the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and PAC-12 Freshman of the Year, along with the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Hitter of the Year after the season. After that season, he played for the U.S. Collegiate National Team. In his sophomore year, Torkelson joined Bob Horner as the only Arizona State player to hit 20 home runs in consecutive seasons. He played for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League after his freshman and sophomore seasons and was just three home runs shy of ASU’s career record of 56 homers before COVID-19 happened.
Torkelson is one of the most MLB-ready players in the upcoming draft and he provides plenty of pop in his bat, evident of his record-breaking power numbers. Most players in today’s game who provide as much power as he does are not known to also be able to work counts and walks. Torkelson is not like that, as during his college career, over 628 plate appearances, he walked at a 17.5% rate while striking out at a lesser 16.6% rate. For comparison, Mike Trout has walked at a 15.2% rate while striking out at a 21.2% rate over his first nine seasons.
While it will be tougher for Torkelson as he moves up levels and keep it up with more at-bats, the patience at the plate is certainly there. Power plus patience is a dynamic threat to have. His power at the plate continued to daunt pitchers throughout his two-plus years including in the Cape Cod League. In the Cape Cod season after his freshman year, he hit .333/.472/.704.
While he is a dynamic threat at the dish, Torkelson doesn’t provide much when he gets on the basepaths, with a 40 score for speed in his scouting grades. He only stole seven bases during his career and certainly won’t be asked to steal at the next level. His fielding is around average, with a 50 scouting grade, but is right on par with most first basemen in the league. Most first basemen are more known for their pop over their glove and a player like Mark Teixeira, who was very good with the glove, is rare. While I am calling his fielding a weakness, it won’t be anything that will affect him with a bat that outweighs that.
While he may not have the speed, Torkelson has a lot of similarities to Paul Goldschmidt with his combination of pop, patience, and hitting ability to all fields. He projects to play only 1B or DH in the majors, which Goldschmidt does as well. His profile is also very close to last year’s top-rated first baseman prospect Andrew Vaughn, who the White Sox selected with the third overall pick.
Draft Projection: Round 1 Pick 1, Detroit Tigers
The Tigers still have Miguel Cabrera under contract through the 2024 season and need to get a younger bat to replace him in the future. Depending on how quickly he moves up the minor league ranks, Torkelson may push the former Triple Crown and MVP winner to the bench, or at least to full-time DH, for his last season or two. Being as MLB-ready as he is, he could definitely see himself in the Tigers lineup sooner rather than later. The Tigers are so bad that they could very well end up with the first overall pick in next year’s draft as well, assuming a season is even played this year.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images