Detroit Tigers prospect Spencer Torkelson will be in the Opening Day lineup to begin the 2022 MLB season, becoming the first top prospect announced as part of his club’s 28-man roster.
Torkelson, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, is one of the best prospects in baseball. Heading into the season, he rated as MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 overall prospect and he is also a top-five prospect by Baseball America.
The Tigers selected Torkelson out of Arizona State. Across three collegiate seasons, Torkelson posted a .337/.463/.729 slash line with a 1.192 OPS and 64 home runs in 129 career games.
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Detroit brought Torkelson into major-league camp this year with a shot to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. The 22-year-old compiled a .280/.406/.440 slash line with a .846 OPS and four doubles in 25 at-bats entering play on Saturday.
The Tigers took the opportunity to inform Torkelson of the news in a unique way. Future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera presented Torkelson with a first baseman’s glove, symbolizing the passing of the torch from the Tigers’ legend to the next potential superstar.
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Cabrera will serve as Detroit’s designated hitter for the 2022 reason. He remains one of the highest paid MLB players entering his age-39 season.
The news isn’t all positive for the Tigers. Riley Greene, another top-10 prospect in Detroit’s farm system, was diagnosed with a fractured right foot. The young outfielder will be sidelined 6-8 weeks before receiving clearance for game action.
Spencer Torkelson scouting report and 2022 impact
Torkelson is one of the most exciting, young hitters in baseball. The 6-foot-1 slugger was drafted as a third baseman by Detroit, but his natural position is first base. While he might never be a Gold Glove Award candidate at the position, the Tigers’ lineup is adding plenty of talent.
- Spencer Torkelson stats (2021): 30 home runs, 91 RBIs, .935 OPS across 431 at-bats
Both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline put Torkelson’s power at a 70 on the 20-80 scale. Putting that number in perspective, 70 is viewed as a ‘plus plus’ tool with the batter having the raw strength to hit 35–plus home runs each season in his prime.
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However, this isn’t a three-outcome player. Torkelson posted a .312/.330/.559 slash line when he opened the 2021 season with Detroit’s High-A affiliate. While the batting average dropped to .263 after he was promoted to Double-A, he still tallied 14 home runs and a .933 OPS in 50 games. The right-handed batter closed out his first full MiLB season with 11 home runs across 177 plate appearances for the Tigers’ Triple-A team.
There’s a legitimate chance Torkelson becomes a .270 hitter that averages 35-plus home runs with a .900-plus OPS during his best years in the majors. Given the upward trajectory the Tigers are making, it could make him an MVP candidate in a few short years.
Expectations for the 2022 season should be a bit lower. Considering he’ll receive regular playing time from Game 1 through Game 162, 25-plus home runs is doable for this talented player.