Arizona State star first baseman Spencer Torkelson is slated to be a consensus top-three pick in this year’s MLB Draft, and most likely No. 1 overall.
Although the future of the 2020 baseball season and the draft is in a precarious state at the moment, the phenom still has good spirits while awaiting for his future.
Earlier this week, Torkelson spoke with the media via a Zoom call from his family home in the Bay Area to address his career as a Sun Devil, and what lies ahead for him.
He’s been keeping in shape by doing push-ups, walking his dog, and continuing to hit with a make shift batting cage that he constructed in his backyard.
“I don’t think I’ve still come to grips with the situation just because it’s so crazy,” said Torkelson of the recent events over the last month surrounding the Coronavirus. “None of us have ever gone through this. It’s so new to us and it’s hard to understand. You have to put it in perspective and realize that, yes, college baseball is a big deal to me and a lot of other people but the bigger picture is the world.”
Before the college baseball season was canceled, the Sun Devil slugger was just two home runs shy of breaking Bob Horner’s school record of 56 career home runs. Torkelson had 54, and had six already in 2020.
Horner planned on attending ASU’s upcoming home series against Utah in mid-March to watch Torkelson shatter his own record. However, upon news of the season cancellation, the former MLB 1978 NL Rookie of the Year gave Torkelson a phone call.
“He was super saddened and was like, ‘It’s been however many years. That record needs to be broken,’” said Torkelson of his interaction with the Sun Devil alum. “I think he was more mad about it than me.”
Horner wasn’t the only one who was disheartened by the news, though. His family was particularly hit hard by the verdict, as were many others.
Torkelson tried to help uplift his parent’s spirits with some of the unfortunate happenings, keeping a positive outlook throughout. The group has leaned on each other, and his mom helped him with the batting cage in the backyard while his uncle comes over and throws batting practice to him.
“My family has been really supportive,” Torkelson said. “My mom bought me the batting cage and she wants me to get work in. My uncle is always willing to throw to me wherever and whenever, too...But they’ve been really supportive and I am sure they feel just as weird as me with having me home in April.”
As for the draft and his future in the professional ranks, Torkelson hasn’t been in contact with any agents and he is just awaiting for what his next step is in regards to when the draft will be and where he’ll be going.
For any advice, he has had other figures to stay in contact with to get an idea of what the process is like. Most notably, he’s gotten to see what the first-round route is like courtesy of two of last year’s top-10 picks.
Torkelson spoke with his former Sun Devil teammate Hunter Bishop, who was picked 10th overall by the San Francisco Giants, as well as former Cal Bear Andrew Vaughn, who was picked third overall by the Chicago White Sox last summer.
Vaughn and Torkelson are both products of Sonoma County and they played Little League, high school, and college ball against one another. They both worked with the same hitting coach in high school.
“I wouldn’t say I lived through Hunter Bishop last year, but I saw how he handled it really well,” said Torkelson of dealing with the draft projections while still in college. “I’ve spoke with Andrew Vaughn too and he’s told me, ‘Just be yourself.’ Everything else is pretty much out of your control. You can’t control what other teams think of you. All you can do is be yourself and hit home runs, is what Vaughn would say...It’s kind of about looking at what they went through and using it as an example.”
Ultimately, even with a canceled season and 40 regular games that Torkelson didn’t get to play in during his final season as a junior, it won’t put any dent on his resume as a Sun Devil.
The projected top draft pick will still go down as another product of MLB U. He’s a unanimous two-time All-American who shattered Barry Bonds freshman home run record, and who received 31 intentional walks in 17 games in his final season and his legacy is cemented in the ASU baseball program for the next generation of players.
Even so, Torkelson still held a humble demeanor when asked what recollections he’ll take from his time as a Sun Devil.
“I had a great time this year and my whole ASU career. I have so many great memories and I have a lot of best friends that I am going to have for the rest of my life,” Torkelson said. “It’s memories like hell week or fall ball, the stuff that people don’t see and transforms us into a player on Friday night. That’s what I really cherish.”