The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms with their No. 1 draft pick, who was also the top overall pick earlier this month: Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson. The signing bonus included with the deal, per Jim Callis of MLB.com, is a record $8,416,300. That figure eclipses the record set last year by Orioles' draftee Adley Rutchsman at $8.1 million.
The Tigers drafted Torkelson as a third baseman, though obviously that doesn't mean he can't move to first base or serve as a designated hitter. Here's what our prospect expert R.J. Anderson had to say about Torkelson prior to his No. 1 selection:
Torkelson walked in 31 of his 82 plate appearances during the abbreviated NCAA season, but he still managed to improve his career homer count to 54 in 498 at-bats. Torkelson has the requisite eye, strength, and barrel control to profile as a quick-moving thumper. The biggest knock on him is that he's only a right-handed first baseman, and those seldom make for satisfying early selections -- it's basically a sample of the ballad of Andrew Vaughn, the third pick in last year's draft. Don't be surprised when Torkelson ends up going higher than Vaughn, perhaps even first.
Some scouts believe Torkelson is either near-MLB ready or ready this instant to take part in meaningful major-league games. We haven't seen a player go straight from college to the majors since Mike Leake. The last position player to do it? John Olerud, who was drafted by and debuted for the Blue Jays in 1989.
Under a normal season, we wouldn't even be having this conversation regarding Torkelson. With the shutdown due to the pandemic and the MLB collective bargaining agreement being up after 2021, however, the circumstances are ripe for a quick Torkelson debut.
The CBA fight is sure to include something over manipulated service time of youngsters who appear to be MLB ready (Kris Bryant is the perfect example here). As such, many front offices might realize the service time rules are going to change and it would behoove them to behave more liberally regarding the promotion of top prospects.
The prediction here is Torkelson gets added to the Tigers' taxi squad and spends the season there unless they are either pressed into emergency mode (with injuries and illnesses) or are surprisingly contending and he's hitting well against the taxi squad pitchers. Don't be shocked if we do see him in big-league action this season, though.