Tigers select Spencer Torkelson, who once broke Barry Bonds home run record, with No. 1 pick

Mark Townsend
Yahoo Sports Contributor
The Detroit Tigers selected Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the No. 1 pick of the 2020 MLB draft. (John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Four years into their extensive rebuild, the Detroit Tigers have added another potential cornerstone to their ranks. With the first pick of the five-round 2020 MLB draft, Detroit selected Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson.

It's the second time Detroit has had the No. 1 pick in the last three years. In 2018, the Tigers drafted Auburn right-hander Casey Mize. Last season, Detroit selected high school outfielder Riley Greene with the fifth pick. The Tigers still have a long way to go after losing 114 games last season, but they are slowly compiling an impressive core of prospects.

None more impressive than Torkelson.

The power-hitting first baseman hit 54 home runs in just 129 games at Arizona State. That includes a school record 25 home runs as a freshman in 2018. The previous record holder? Just some guy named Barry Bonds. The Major League Baseball home run king hit 11 as a freshman at Arizona State back in 1983.

As a sophomore, Torkelson cranked another 23 homers. He’d already hit six this season when the season was abruptly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Needless to say, his power is legit.

Of note, the Tigers announced Torkelson as a third baseman upon his selection. That’s an indication he will be changing position at least initially in his professional career. He projects as a fast mover through the minor leagues and a long-term middle-of-the-lineup force. In Detroit, that could mean replacing the legendary Miguel Cabrera as the lineup’s centerpiece.

Torkelson’s selection also bucks one of the most interesting trends in MLB draft history. Since 1961, only two right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing first baseman — Dave McCarty (No. 3 in 1991) and Andrew Vaughn (No. 3 in 2019) — have been selected within the top five picks. Torkelson is the third and the highest-drafted among them. The last first baseman of any handedness to go No. 1 overall was Adrián González in 2000.

Oh, and did we mention he’s friends with television star and restaurateur Guy Fieri?

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