Tigers draft Arizona State slugger Torkelson with No. 1 pick

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2019, file photo, Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson bats during an NCAA college baseball game against Notre Dame in Phoenix. The Detroit Tigers are rebuilding around an impressive group of minor league pitchers. Now, it might be time to add a star hitting prospect to the mix. Whether it's Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson or somebody else, Detroit has a chance to add another potential standout when it makes the No. 1 selection in Wednesday night's Major League Baseball draft.

    FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2019, file photo, Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson bats during an NCAA college baseball game against Notre Dame in Phoenix. The Detroit Tigers are rebuilding around an impressive group of minor league pitchers. Now, it might be time to add a star hitting prospect to the mix. Whether it's Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson or somebody else, Detroit has a chance to add another potential standout when it makes the No. 1 selection in Wednesday night's Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

  • Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. makes an opening statement during the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020 in Secaucus, N.J. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP)

    Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. makes an opening statement during the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020 in Secaucus, N.J. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP) Associated Press

  • In a photo provided by MLB Photos, the draft board is seen after the completion of the first round during the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Secaucus, N.J. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP)

    In a photo provided by MLB Photos, the draft board is seen after the completion of the first round during the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Secaucus, N.J. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP) Associated Press

  • In a photo provided by MLB Photos, general managers of all 30 Major League Baseball teams are displayed holding #BlackLivesMatter signs during the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Secaucus, N.J. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP)

    In a photo provided by MLB Photos, general managers of all 30 Major League Baseball teams are displayed holding #BlackLivesMatter signs during the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Secaucus, N.J. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP) Associated Press

  • In a photo provided by MLB Photos, the baseball draft board is seen Monday, June 8, 2020 in Secaucus, N.J., for Wednesday's draft. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP)

    In a photo provided by MLB Photos, the baseball draft board is seen Monday, June 8, 2020 in Secaucus, N.J., for Wednesday's draft. (Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via AP) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 20, 2019, file photo, Minnesota pitcher Max Meyer throws against Oklahoma during an NCAA college baseball game, in Minneapolis. Meyer is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft.

    FILE - In this April 20, 2019, file photo, Minnesota pitcher Max Meyer throws against Oklahoma during an NCAA college baseball game, in Minneapolis. Meyer is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2020, file photo, Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad (18) swings at a pitch during an NCAA baseball game against Oklahoma, in Houston. Kjerstad is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft.

    FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2020, file photo, Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad (18) swings at a pitch during an NCAA baseball game against Oklahoma, in Houston. Kjerstad is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2020, file photo, Texas A&M's Asa Lacy (35) throws a strike against a Miami (Ohio) batter during an NCAA baseball game in College Station, Texas. Detroit has a chance to add another potential standout when it makes the No. 1 selection in Wednesday night's draft. Lacy is a possible top pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

    FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2020, file photo, Texas A&M's Asa Lacy (35) throws a strike against a Miami (Ohio) batter during an NCAA baseball game in College Station, Texas. Detroit has a chance to add another potential standout when it makes the No. 1 selection in Wednesday night's draft. Lacy is a possible top pick in the Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this May 11, 2019, file photo, Vanderbilt's Austin Martin connects for a hit during an NCAA college baseball game against Missouri in Nashville, Tenn. The Detroit Tigers are rebuilding around an impressive group of minor league pitchers. Now, it might be time to add a star hitting prospect to the mix. Whether it's Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson or Vanderbilt's Austin Martin, Detroit has a chance to add another potential standout when it makes the No. 1 selection in Wednesday night's Major League Baseball draft.

    FILE - In this May 11, 2019, file photo, Vanderbilt's Austin Martin connects for a hit during an NCAA college baseball game against Missouri in Nashville, Tenn. The Detroit Tigers are rebuilding around an impressive group of minor league pitchers. Now, it might be time to add a star hitting prospect to the mix. Whether it's Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson or Vanderbilt's Austin Martin, Detroit has a chance to add another potential standout when it makes the No. 1 selection in Wednesday night's Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this March 22, 2019, file photo, Georgia's Emerson Hancock throws the ball against LSU during an NCAA college baseball game in Athens, Ga. Hancock is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)

    FILE - In this March 22, 2019, file photo, Georgia's Emerson Hancock throws the ball against LSU during an NCAA college baseball game in Athens, Ga. Hancock is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File) Associated Press

  • CORRECTS THAT GONZALES PLAYS FOR NEW MEXICO STATE, NOT SEATTTLE - FILE - In this May 10, 2019, file photo, New Mexico State's Nick Gonzales waits for a pitch during an at-bat in an NCAA college baseball game against Seattle University, in Bellevue, Wash. Gonzales is expected to be an early selection in the  Major League Baseball draft.

    CORRECTS THAT GONZALES PLAYS FOR NEW MEXICO STATE, NOT SEATTTLE - FILE - In this May 10, 2019, file photo, New Mexico State's Nick Gonzales waits for a pitch during an at-bat in an NCAA college baseball game against Seattle University, in Bellevue, Wash. Gonzales is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

  • In this Sept. 25, 2019, photo, Independence High School baseball player Robert Hassell III poses for a photo in Thompson's Station, Tenn. Hassell was selected by the San Diego Padres in the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Wade Payne/The Tennessean via AP)

    In this Sept. 25, 2019, photo, Independence High School baseball player Robert Hassell III poses for a photo in Thompson's Station, Tenn. Hassell was selected by the San Diego Padres in the baseball draft Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (Wade Payne/The Tennessean via AP) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this June 7, 2019, file photo, Louisville's Reid Detmers throws during the sixth inning in Game 1 of an NCAA college baseball super regional tournament against East Carolina, in Louisville, Ky. Detmers is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft.

    FILE - In this June 7, 2019, file photo, Louisville's Reid Detmers throws during the sixth inning in Game 1 of an NCAA college baseball super regional tournament against East Carolina, in Louisville, Ky. Detmers is expected to be an early selection in the Major League Baseball draft. Associated Press

 
 
Posted6/11/2020 7:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Spencer Torkelson slugged his way through college, bashing baseballs all around the country with eye-popping power.

All those impressive drives made the decision easy for the Detroit Tigers, who selected the Arizona State star with the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft Wednesday night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But while Torkelson was long considered the favorite to go first overall, the surprise came when he was announced as a third baseman by Commissioner Rob Manfred. Detroit plans to move Torkelson to the hot corner from first base, where he played for the Sun Devils.

'It shows the amount of respect they have for me as an athlete,' a smiling Torkelson said on the MLB Network broadcast. 'I'll take it and run with it. I like to label myself as a baseball player, and you give me a bat, a ball and a glove, and you know what? I'm just going to want to win.'

Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad went No. 2 to Baltimore, which took Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the top pick a year ago.

Shortened dramatically because of the coronavirus, the draft gave fans the closest thing they've had to a live big league baseball event since spring training was stopped in March. It came as owners and players continue contentious labor negotiations aimed at starting an abbreviated, pandemic-delayed season this summer - likely with no crowds in ballparks.

Not long before the first pick, Manfred said there is a '100%' chance MLB will play ball this year.

After having the worst record in the majors last season, Detroit opened the draft for the second time in three years. The Tigers took Auburn right-hander Casey Mize in 2018, and now they've got a powerful bat that could anchor their lineup for years to go along with an arm they hope is a future ace.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

With power to all fields and a great eye at the plate, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Torkelson established himself as college baseball's top slugger after going undrafted out of high school. He hit 54 home runs at Arizona State, two shy of the school record set by Bob Horner - who was drafted No. 1 overall in 1978.

Torkelson likely would have obliterated that mark if his college season hadn't been halted after just 17 games because of the pandemic. The Petaluma, California, native hit .340 with six homers and 11 RBIs this year.

As the top overall pick, the slot value for his signing bonus is $8,415,300.

'We know he can play first. But our scouts strongly feel that he can play third base, and that's our intent at this point,' Detroit general manager Al Avila said on the ESPN broadcast. 'He's exactly the type of player we hoped would be there for us to get with the top pick. Obviously, he's one of the most productive hitters in college history.'

This year's draft originally was scheduled to take place for the first time in Omaha, Nebraska, as a lead-in to the College World Series. Instead, the COVID-19 outbreak caused MLB to make some drastic changes, including holding the draft remotely - much like the NFL did in April - and shaving it from three days with 40 rounds to only two days and five rounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Manfred announced the first-round selections as usual from a podium at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. He also addressed racial injustice and the recent protests that have occurred all over the country and the world.

Executives from all 30 teams held up signs at the beginning of the broadcast that read: 'Black Lives Matter. United For Change.'

The shortened - and in some cases even canceled - college and high school baseball seasons presented unique challenges for big league scouting departments, which had to rely more on video of prospects instead of attending games to help with their evaluations.

Perhaps that contributed to a record seven straight college players being selected to begin the draft.

After Torkelson and Kjerstad were picked, Miami took Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer; Kansas City selected Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy; Toronto went with Vanderbilt shortstop Austin Martin; Seattle chose Georgia righty Emerson Hancock; and Pittsburgh picked New Mexico State shortstop Nick Gonzales.

Tennessee high school outfielder Robert Hassell ended the run on college players, going No. 8 to San Diego.

'We've seen the trend in this direction over the last number of years,' Milwaukee scouting director Tod Johnson said after the Brewers took UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell at No. 20. "Those three years of development that players get when they go to college tells us a lot about them. It helps to make these decisions with more information. We have more of a statistical record for college players against quality competition.

"All those factors I think have trended toward moving toward a more college-heavy draft.'

Florida high school outfielder Zac Veen was chosen by Colorado with the ninth pick, followed by the Los Angeles Angels selecting Louisville lefty Reid Detmers to round out the top 10.

Tampa Bay took Arizona State shortstop Alika Williams - a college teammate of Torkelson's - with the final pick of the first night at No. 37 overall.

Rounds 2-5 will be held Thursday, for a total of 160 players selected.

Torkelson became the fourth Arizona State player selected first overall, most of any school. He joined Horner, left-hander Floyd Bannister (1976) and outfielder Rick Monday, who was the top pick in baseball's inaugural June amateur draft in 1965.

Houston will have to wait until pick No. 72 before it makes its first selection after being stripped of its first- and second-round selections by Manfred as part of the team's punishment for breaking rules against using electronics to steal signs during games.

Boston lost its second-round pick for violating rules against in-game use of video to identify pitch signals.

Undrafted players need to wait until Sunday before they can sign with major league teams, who can offer signing bonuses only up to $20,000 as agreed upon by Major League Baseball and the players' association.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.