Spencer Torkelson’s college career ends, but baseball career just starting
Spencer Torkelson’s college baseball career is most likely over. It didn’t end in the College World Series as he had planned, but confined to his Petaluma family home, locked in by the coronavirus pandemic.
Torkelson is a junior at Arizona State University, where the Sun Devils had put together a 13-4 record and were looking forward to battling for a spot in the College World Series. “We were pretty set up for a special year,” Torkelson said.
He also was looking forward to a special year, individually. The honors list for the Casa Grande High School graduate goes on and on for his first two years at ASU, and includes All-American honors from almost every nationally recognized source. In his two seasons (plus 17 games this year), he batted .337 with 152 runs scored in 129 games, 168 hits, 54 home runs, 130 RBIs, a .729 slugging percentage, 110 walks and a .463 slugging percentage. He was within two home runs of passing Bob Horner as the leading home run hitter in ASU history. His list of All-American, All-This and All-That honors could fill a scorebook.
Now, his season and probably his college career are over. But not his baseball career.
He is ranked the No. 1 prospect in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft by Baseball America and the No. 2 pick by D1Baseball.com. He was the projected No. 1 pick in many early-season mock drafts and among the top three in almost all mock drafts.
But Torkelson may have to wait a bit to find out about his MLB fate. The draft is scheduled to begin Wednesday, June 10, but may be pushed back until July due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s draft will have only 5-10 rounds, a change that shouldn’t affect Torkelson.
What does affect him is being shut in his parents’ home with no baseball to play. “It feels weird,” he said. “It is strange to think I may be done with college baseball.”
Torkelson acknowledged that, for all his success, the move from high school to Division I baseball was challenging. “It is one of the biggest jumps you can make,” he said. “It is a big adjustment to go from being one of the best players in the county to playing with the best players in the country.
“At first I was a little timid, going against 21- and 22-year-olds and trying to take a job away. I just had to rely on my athletic talent and a strong work ethic.”
He also relied on a good baseball background drilled into him by his Little League coaches — his father, Rick, and uncle Mike Enochs, and Paul Maytorena and his other coaches at Casa Grande High School.
Even friends and coaches who had watched Torkelson grow up as a Little League and high school star didn’t expect what happened at ASU, when he broke Barry Bonds’ freshman home run record. Torkelson didn’t expect that, either.
“I always had some decent power, but it didn’t translate consistently until my freshman year,” he said. “I worked out all fall and worked with batting coaches every day. It just all clicked for me.”
But even for someone who has things click into place as well as they have for Torkelson, baseball is still a challenging game. He explained that it is a game of adjustments. “You have to keep adjusting to the pitchers,” he said. “They are always making adjustments based off what you’re doing, and you have to adjust to them.”