Detroit Tigers Draft Spencer Torkelson With First Overall Pick

Powerful hitter and third baseman Spencer Torkelson, of Arizona State University, was the first-round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers. PHOTO COURTESY OF ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

The Detroit Tigers selected third baseman Spencer Torkelson from Arizona State University with the first overall pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Torkelson, 20, established himself as one of the top hitters in NCAA history over his two-plus seasons as a Sun Devil, batting a combined .337/.463/.729 with 33 doubles, 54 home runs and 130 RBI. His home run total was just two shy of tying Bob Horner’s school record of 56 homers. Torkelson was a unanimous All-American and was selected to play for the U.S. Collegiate National Team in 2018 and 2019.

Belting 25 home runs as a freshman in 2018 and 23 as a sophomore in 2019, Torkelson became just the third player in Pac-12 history to have consecutive seasons with 25 or more long balls. Torkelson hit .340/.598/.780 with four doubles, six home runs and 11 RBI in 17 games during his abbreviated junior season.

“Spencer is exactly the type of player we hoped would be there for us with the top pick in this year’s draft,” said Scott Pleis, Detroit Tigers director of amateur scouting. “He’s one of the most polished hitters we’ve seen in the draft for quite some time, showing plus-plus power and excellent plate discipline. 

“We’ve been tracking Spencer’s growth and performance since his breakout freshman season at Arizona State and are excited to see him grow in the coming years.”

Torkelson put together one of the best freshman seasons in college baseball history in 2018, batting .320/.440/.743 with 12 doubles, 25 home runs and 53 RBI. Torkelson led the country with 25 homers, which were two more than any other player and just one shy of the NCAA freshman record.

He also easily surpassed the previous Arizona State freshman record of 11 home runs in a season, set by Barry Bonds in 1983. Torkelson was tabbed the National Freshman of the Year by Perfect Game, the National Co-Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball News, the National Freshman Hitter of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

“After completing a comprehensive and truly unique pre-draft evaluation of the top players, our decision to select Spencer was a clear one,” said Al Avila, Detroit Tigers executive vice president of baseball operations and general Manager. 

“We’re excited to have him join our player development system and know that his outstanding performance in the batter’s box, in the field and in the clubhouse will be assets to our organization for years to come.”

A native of Petaluma, Calif., Torkelson was a four-year varsity starter at Casa Grande High School, hitting .430 with 32 doubles, 11 home runs and 99 RBI in 110 games. He also maintained a 1.24 ERA in 16 career appearances on the mound, throwing 22.2 innings.

Tigers Complete 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft

The Detroit Tigers completed the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 11. The club made six selections over the two-day draft, including selecting Arizona State third baseman Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick. All six selections made by the Tigers were position players, while five of the six picks were from the collegiate ranks. Information on each player selected is below:

Round 1 (first overall pick) – Torkelson, age 20, of Arizona State University, established himself as one of the top hitters in NCAA history over his two-plus seasons as a Sun Devil, batting a combined .337.463/.729 with 33 doubles, 54 home runs and 130 RBI. His home run total was just two shy of tying Bob Horner’s school record of 56 homers. Torkelson was a unanimous All-American and was selected to play for the U.S. Collegiate National Team in 2018 and 2019.

Belting 25 home runs as a freshman in 2018 and 23 as a sophomore in 2019, Torkelson became just the third player in Pac-12 history to have consecutive seasons with 25-or-more longballs. If he had hit 25 or more home runs in his junior season, Torkelson would have cracked the NCAA top-10 all-time leaderboard, a feat accomplished by just one player since 2000.

Round 2 (38th overall pick) – Dillon Dingler, age 21, a catcher from The Ohio State University, played in 115 games over his three years with the Buckeyes, hitting .276/.367/.442 with 21 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs and 50 RBI. He was named second-team All-Big Ten and to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team as a sophomore in 2019, and was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshmen Team in 2018.

Dingler put up impressive numbers in his shortened junior season, batting .340/.404/.760 with four doubles, one triple, five home runs and 14 RBI. At the time that the 2020 season was suspended, Dingler was tied for the Big Ten lead in home runs, while he was second in the conference, 23rd nationally and sixth among all D-I catchers in slugging percentage.

Competitive Balance Round B (62nd overall pick) – Daniel Cabrera, a 21-year-old leftfielder from LSU, saw time in 140 games in his college career, hitting .305/.392/.518 with 33 doubles, four triples, 22 home runs and 116 RBI. In 2018, he was named a freshman All-American by Baseball America, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Perfect Game, D-I Baseball and Collegiate Baseball. He was also selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team and played for the U.S. Collegiate National Team.

Round 3 (73rd overall pick) – Trei Cruz, 21, Rice University, appeared in 131 games over his three college seasons, hitting .296/.406/.484 with 31 doubles, eight triples, 16 home runs and 97 RBI. He earned second-team All-Conference USA honors as a sophomore in 2019 and was named a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball in 2018. He was also selected to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.

Round 4 (102nd overall pick) – Gage Workman, 20, a third baseman from Arizona State University, played in 124 games with the Sun Devils, batting .298/.372/.496 with 25 doubles, 12 triples, 14 home runs and 81 RBI. Workman was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention and Pac-12 defensive honorable mention as a sophomore in 2019 and was selected a freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball News in 2018.

Round 5 (132nd overall pick) – Colton Keith, an 18-year-old from Biloxi High School, was named Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019 after hitting .527 as a junior. He was also named a second-team high school All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Keith participated in Major League Baseball’s Prospect Development Pipeline in 2019, playing in eight games with “Team Jeter.” Keith was selected a 2020 preseason All-American and to the preseason Southeast All-Region first team by Perfect Game.

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