If all goes according to plan there will be more important homers in the career of Detroit Tigers rookie Spencer Torkelson. Clutch walk-off drives, All Star Game shots, pennant race blasts in September, and ultimately historic World Series bombs that make legends. Those will all hopefully be part of Torkelson’s script in a Detroit Tigers uniform.
However it will be a homer in a losing effort on a cold and wet day at Comerica Park that’ll be the first drop of leading to a full bucket of homers one day.
Torkelson came to bat in the 7th of a moribund looking affair with the Boston Red Sox leading 9-2. Harold Castro led off the frame in front of Torkelson with a sharply hit single off BoSox lefty reliever Austin Davis. Torkelson walked to the plate with at least some good feelings from lining out with authority off starter Nathan Eovaldi in the 4th.
Torkelson stood in against Davis. On the second pitch he received a tasty 94-mph fastball at the belt on the inner half basically screaming “CRUSH ME.” Torkelson obliged. A long blast into the left-field seats took him off the goose egg in the home run column forever.
The young Tigers slugger was off to a rather slow start, going hitless in his first four games with eight strikeouts versus three walks. Torkelson was able to achieve his first hit on Tuesday with a double to right-center that barely eluded Gold Glove Boston outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr.
The hit allayed some of the concerns among the Twitter hordes champing at the bit to see Torkelson start to contribute and eventually look like the first overall choice in the MLB Draft.
Torkelson’s homer on Wednesday, along with a single in the following inning, helped the Tigers nearly rally back from a huge deficit but eventually succumb to the Red Sox, 9-7.
Where does Torkelson go from here? He’s a rookie. There will be a learning curve. Sometimes the curve is favorably flat as it was on Wednesday. But occasionally it will be a “Deadman’s Curve” with mini-slumps mixed in. Everyday is a learning opportunity for the 22-year old first-sacker.
Torkelson has been able to show some patience in the early going. He was seeing over 4.5 pitches per at-bat even when he hadn’t cracked a hit yet. There is no doubt he’s looking to work counts and hopefully get more favorable counts moving forward. It’s an excellent trait which should help him.
A good point of comparison moving forward to gauge his progress might be young White Sox right-handed slugger Andrew Vaughn, another PAC-10 masher selected near the top of the draft. Vaughn has vaulted out of the gates with a red hot start in ‘22.
But he had an uneven rookie campaign in ‘21. A slash line of .235/.309/.396 with 15 HR/54 RBI in 469 plate appearances for an OPS+ of 92. In limited at-bats this season though he’s looking aggressive and confident, including two ringing hits off Cy Young winner Robbie Ray on Wednesday. Better days look to be in his immediate future.
Torkelson now has his first bomb out of the way. He heads to Kansas City on his first big league road trip looking to add to his total and contribute to some wins for the Detroit Tigers. It will be interesting to monitor his spot in the batting order throughout the season. If he emulates last season in the minors by coming alive as the weather heats up, there’s a good chance he’s rising up steadily from the 8-hole during the summer months.