With the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Detroit Tigers have selected Spencer Torkelson, a third baseman out of Arizona State University. Torkelson, who is 20 years old, was widely expected to make history as the only first baseman to be taken out of college with the first overall selection in the history of the draft, but he was announced as a third baseman.
The Tigers have long been connected to him at the top of the draft, meaning his selection comes as little surprise for fans of the team. Though ASU’s baseball season lasted only 16 games, Torkelson established himself as the most formidable offensive player in college baseball. He hit at a staggering .340/.598/.780, which isn’t too far off from his career .337/.443/.723 line with the Sun Devils. And if that were not impressive enough, he drew as many intentional walks (15) as he had strikeouts.
Those numbers are no mirage. Scouts claim that Torkelson is one of the most complete hitters to come through the draft in years. He is lauded by everyone, as evaluators claim that his “double plus power comes easy” and he “controls at-bats extremely well.” FanGraphs really lays it on thick, opining that he has “sublime hitter’s timing, plus bat speed, and above-average barrel control and ball/strike recognition.”
As the draft cycle has come to a peak, scouts have been urging fans not to sleep on Torkelson’s athleticism. He has played mostly first base at Arizona State University, but he has the ability to play more difficult positions and it appears the Tigers will give him the chance to prove himself at the hot corner.
The slot value for the first overall pick is $8,415,300. Historically, the top pick in the draft doesn’t wind up netting the whole slot value, and it’s unlikely that Torkelson will be the exception. However, don’t expect too much of a bargain — being a Scott Boras client, Torkelson is likely to get a large portion of that money.
In a normal year, the Tigers would have to wait until the completion of the collegiate season before coming to terms with their draftees from college programs. However, like in many other respects, 2020 is not a normal year. Because the truncated college season ended months ago, the signing process should go more swiftly than usual; Lynn Henning of the Detroit News is confident it will not take long.
Torkelson-Tigers contract expected to be inked with no serious hang-ups. The usual finer-line jostling and detailing are yet to be completed. But no impasse. Deal done sooner than later.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) June 9, 2020
The instant he signs, Torkelson will become the crown jewel of the Tigers’ offensive prospects, unseating former first rounder Riley Greene from that role. The real debate will be over which player is the organization’s top prospect, and an argument could be made for any of Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Torkelson.
If you want to learn more about Spencer Torkelson, check out our writeup on him from earlier this spring here. Be sure to pop in to the 2020 MLB Draft: Day One open thread as well and tell us what you think about the pick.