Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Though he played first base in college, he was announced as a third baseman when selected.
Torkelson entered this season as one of the favorites to go No. 1 overall. The Arizona State star led the Pac-12 in home runs as a freshman (25) and sophomore (23). He was on his way to another outstanding performance in 2020 with a .340/.598/.770 slash line and six home runs in 17 games before the NCAA canceled spring sports because of the coronavirus pandemic.
MLB.com ranked the 20-year-old as the best prospect in this year’s class, putting plus grades on his hit and power tools:
“He controls at-bats extremely well and draws a ton of walks. He’s able to drive the ball from foul pole to foul pole and he uses the middle of the field when he’s at his best. He’s able to hit the ball out to all fields, with tremendous loft power to his pull side. He doesn’t sell out for that power, but gets to it with ease.”
Despite those offensive attributes, The Athletic’s Keith Law noted no college first baseman has ever been drafted No. 1 overall.
The California native may not stay at first base in professional baseball. Sun Devils head coach Tracy Smith told Baseball america‘s Teddy Cahill that Torkelson, who played third base in high school and right field in the Cape Cod League, could move to another position if asked.
Torkelson is a solid defensive first baseman and his bat will play at the position, so there’s no need to move him.
The most important thing for the Tigers is making sure they don’t do anything that could hinder his offensive development. He has the potential to hit in the middle of their lineup as soon as he arrives in MLB.
Detroit has done a terrific job of adding high-end talent to its farm system during this rebuilding phase. MLB.com ranked the Tigers’ minor leaguers as the fifth-best overall coming into this season, with four top-100 prospects.
Torkelson will give them a fifth as soon as he signs. He’s a future No. 3 or 4 hitter with 30-plus-homer potential.