MLB Draft: Tigers projected to select 1B Spencer Torkelson
By Jay Markle
The Arizona Sun Devils’ first baseman has taken over as the leading candidate to be taken by the Tigers with the first overall pick.
In the wake of the shutdown of professional sports, Tigers fans have been forced to get their fix of baseball content in the form of MLB draft news and rumors. It’s a small consolation prize that Detroit is in a fantastic position to score on a lot of premium talent – they have the second largest bonus pool, an extra pick in Competitive Balance Round B, and most importantly, are perched atop the draft order with the first overall pick.
That position in the 2020 draft is a dubious honor; they won it by losing 114 games of the 2019 schedule. However, it means they’ll have the perfect opportunity to add another piece to their prized farm system. Thus far, Austin Martin has been the presumptive media favorite to land in the Tigers’ system, but the tides have recently shifted to favor the fan favorite instead – Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson.
In a recent Baseball America mock draft, the Tigers are projected to select Torkelson with that top pick. This seems to be confirmation of the whispers that have been circulating among Detroit’s more plugged-in fans that the front office was enamored with his bat and athletic ability. The value that Torkelson could have to the team’s rebuilding process is obvious. He’d be the team’s best position player on the farm the moment he entered the system, with the aptitude and present power to outslug any of Detroit’s other prospects.
That he’s being considered for the first overall selection despite his position is speaks more to the sheer formidability of his bat more than anything else. The fact of the matter is that regardless of which of the position players under consideration the Tigers prefer, he would immediately become the projected crown jewel of the Tigers’ future offensive corps. Torkelson being a first baseman – a position where the Tigers don’t have a long-term answer in the system – is merely icing on the cake.
Those who believe in his athleticism have posited that Torkelson could manage defensive innings at third base. He’s been blocked at third in college by the defensively brilliant Gage Workman, who has, in turn, been blocked at short by Alika Williams. If Torkelson can, in fact, play adequate defense at third base, that would theoretically improve his value.
On the other hand, there exists the reasoning the the Tigers would be better off simply leaving him at first base for the time being and try him at third base in the future if the need arises. The hot corner is one of the few positions on the field where the Tigers have interesting, high-potential depth in the pipeline. Why waste Torkelson’s premium bat in the minors while he figures out how to work a new position?
In any situation, the Tigers would be justified in jumping for the opportunity to add someone of Torkelson’s offensive prowess to the team. He’s a rare draft-eligible player who will almost certainly play in the major leagues. The team could hardly ask for a better first baseman of the future.