Detroit Tigers: 5 minor-league storylines to follow

The new entrance to UPMC Park, shown on April 30, 2021.
The new entrance to UPMC Park, shown on April 30, 2021. /
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Detroit Tigers Minor-League Storyline: Spencer Torkelson’s Strikeouts

Detroit Tigers
Mar 17, 2021 – Spencer Torkelson hits a foul ball. Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

Spencer Torkelson may be the most important player in the entire Detroit Tigers organization. The top overall pick in the 2020 draft, Torkelson projects to be exactly the kind of middle-of-the-order masher the Tigers desperately need. But Torkelson looked downright bad at the plate during spring training, going just 1-for-27 with 16 strikeouts, for a ghastly 52% K rate. It wasn’t shocking to see him scuffle — the jump from college to MLB spring training is enormous, and he hadn’t played real games in nearly a year — but the extent to which he struggled was surprising.

And then yesterday he went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts in his official pro debut. It’s far too early to be alarmed by any of this. From watching him play, it’s clear Torkelson has a very good eye at the plate, and he has already been victimized by some questionable minor-league strike zones. So far Torkelson seems to be struggling in the same way Akil Baddoo has for the past few weeks: they both swing and miss at a lot of hittable pitches.

But it’s important to remember failure often teaches prospects much more than success. Kris Bryant, a player to whom Spencer Torkelson has been compared, went 0-for-5 with 5 strikeouts in his third professional game back in 2013. Bryant quickly adjusted, and by 2015 he was one of the best players in baseball. There’s no reason to think Spencer Torkelson can’t follow the same path.