Over 1,300 fans were in attendance at Goodwin Field in Fullerton, California, on a Tuesday night. It was March 3rd, and the Arizona State Sun Devils were up 8-2 on a lowly Cal State Fullerton squad on their first night of a two-game series.
It was the 8th inning, and Arizona State’s first baseman Spencer Torkelson demolished an 0-1 fastball over the left center field wall.
It went 426 feet and was 106mph off the bat.
It was Torkelson’s sixth home run of the season and 54th of his career.
The next four games went by and Torkelson went homerless. He reached base eight times throughout that span, but no balls left the park.
Torkelson walked off the baseball field unexpectedly for the final time on March 8th.
He was now just three home runs away from breaking Bob Horner’s school record of 56.
He finished second all-time on the ASU home run list, second on the all-time ASU slugging percentage list, and could’ve been the first player to ever hit at least 20 home runs in three consecutive seasons.
There remains an uncertainty for what could’ve been with Arizona State in Torkelson’s junior season; however, there is still one foregone conclusion: Torkelson will be a top selection in this year’s MLB Draft.
Torkelson is the top player on most draft boards. He has been the projected first overall selection since 2020 mock drafts began. There is so much to like about Torkelson as a prospect; where should I begin?
For starters, if you watch his swing, there is so much to like. His compact swing with his plus power pairs beautifully. His swing is easily among the most fundamentally sound in the entire draft.
His power has always been the topic of discussion, but there comes an elite eye with that as well. His incredible pitch selection and patience are second to none in this draft. Over his three years on the collegiate level, his walk-to-strikeout ratio has improved each year. After posting a 38-to-44 ratio freshman year and a 41-to-45 sophomore year, in the 17 games he played junior year he walked 31 times, more than double the times he struck out (15). He finished with an .598 OBP.
If there’s any concern about his power translating over to the wood bats: forget about it.
In 2018 in the Cape Cod League, Torkelson homered in seven of the 25 games he played; the Cape Cod League is a wooden-bat summer collegiate league. He finished the summer hitting .333/.472/.704. When he returned in 2019, he only had to appear in five games to show what he brought to the table. He went five-for-13 with four walks and just three strikeouts; he homered twice.
He has shown his raw power, and some say he exhibited more power at Arizona State than Barry Bonds. In 2018, Torkelson broke Bonds’ Pac-12 Freshman Home Run record.
The comparison is an obvious one.
Every single swing looks extremely comparable to Pete Alonso’s, the New York Mets first baseman who just broke the MLB all-time single season home run record for a rookie.
While both have shown their elite power, they have both shown the ability to hit line drives into gaps and simply get on base. When comparing the walk-to-strikeout ratio, Torkelson’s was actually better than Alonso’s in his junior season at the University of Florida (Alonso walked and struck out 31 times equally). Torkelson walked 31 times in his junior year in 17 games while it took Alonso 58 games to reach the same number. It’s clear that Torkelson already seems to have a better eye early on.
While his defense looks serviceable at first base, the only concern from Torkelson comes similar to a rising Alonso: hitting breaking ball pitches.
Torkelson has shown at times he can get swing happy when it comes to breaking pitches. But, he has already shown potential to be able to connect on such pitches.
There is no other player who has a projected ceiling higher than Torkelson. Entering with patience, talent, and maturity at the plate, the clear-cut best player in the draft is going to have a long career playing in the Major Leagues.