Spencer Torkelson training for possible MLB future amid canceled season

ASU baseball's first baseman could potentially be drafted within the first three picks

With 54 career home runs, 168 hits and 130 RBIs in 129 NCAA appearances for the ASU baseball team, junior first baseman Spencer Torkelson has more than qualified himself as one of the most sought after collegiate baseball players in the country. 

However, the NCAA and its athletes have seen the 2020 season taken from them due to the spread of the Novel Coronavirus, putting the future in doubt for several players, including Torkelson.

"I don't think I still have, you know, come to grips on this situation because it's kind of just so crazy and none of us has ever gone through this because, like it's so new to us," Torkelson said on a conference call Wednesday morning. "You got to put into perspective and realize that you know, yes, college baseball's a big deal. It's a big deal to me and a lot of other people but the bigger picture, the world needed, little things like that to happen."

Now, though, Torkelson has turned his attention to the future, where he hints at declaring for the MLB draft this summer, depending on the MLB's decision if, at all, to delay the draft.

"You know, it's been my dream to be a professional baseball player," Torkelson said. "I mean, what I'm looking forward to most is probably just getting there, hopefully, and make it pretty much my life."

In the meantime, with the season being cut short, the California native has stayed in shape by using a batting cage that he built in his backyard.

"Preparation-wise, I'm staying healthy, working out a bunch, and I just built a batting cage in my backyard like a week-and-a-half ago," he said. "I’m lucky to have, you know, a batting cage in my backyard, you know, stay on top of my game. But my brothers playing catch with me, my uncle's throwing batting practice to me, you know, I'm getting it done."

With six home runs and 17 hits in 50 at-bats during the brief stint that was the 2020 season, Torkelson found himself atop the nation's best in several batting categories, having also been walked 31 times—nearly twice per game and the most out of any player in the country — and fourth in on-base percentage.

In fact, Torkelson broke the Pac-12 freshman home run record of 21, ending his rookie season with 25, and was just three home runs shy of breaking the ASU career home run record of 56, set by former major leaguer Bob Horner, when the NCAA announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 season.

"Bob Horner called me about a week after the season got officially canceled, and (said) he was so sorry," Torkelson said. "He was flying out to the next series, I think, to be at the game that hopefully, I would break his record. I think he might have been (more mad) than me." 

But, with the abrupt ending to what could've been a very successful season for the Sun Devils leaves Torkelson with a feeling of unfinished business.

"It'd be like a Friday night like, I'd have like a reminder on my calendar saying, 'Oh, we're playing Utah tonight or something,'" he said on the feelings after the cancellation. "So that really sucks...and then I deleted all my calendar days. It was like a bad breakup it felt like.

"It just took me a couple of weeks, but everyone kept reminding me about your control. You can't do anything about it."

As the No. 1 ranked 2020 draft prospect by Baseball America, Torkelson looks forward to the opportunity just to be drafted, let alone first overall.

"I haven't put much thought into it," Torkelson said. "But it gives me goosebumps just even talking about being drafted. So, you know, just being drafted in the first place is an accomplishment. But to be in the conversation at the very top is very humbling and nice to have. It's pretty exciting."

With his immediate future out of his grasp, Torkelson looks to keep swinging at his cage in his backyard as he prepares for wherever his future will take him.

"It goes back to controlling what I can control, and right now I have no control over the draft," Torkelson said. "So I'm just preparing for it, preparing for anything, I'm ready for anything, and then when things get settled, I'll be ready for anything."


Reach the reporter at aklatsky@asu.edu and follow @averyklatsky on Twitter. 

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