Detroit Tigers a lock to pick Spencer Torkelson No. 1? Why it's 'not an actual conversation'

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The Detroit Tigers are widely expected to tap Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the first pick in the June 10 MLB draft. - Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America/TNS

DETROIT — Only one true first baseman –– Adrian Gonzalez in 2000 –– has been selected No. 1 overall since the MLB draft began in 1965.

Spencer Torkelson is about to become the second, ESPN draft analyst Kiley McDaniel said on a conference call Thursday. He’s 98% sure Detroit Tigers will select the Arizona State first baseman with the top pick June 10.

“It’s hard to imagine them not taking him with what’s coming from their camp, people close to that camp,” McDaniel said. “It’s not really an actual conversation unless something really drastic happens that I don’t foresee happening.”

This marks the second time the Tigers have held the No. 1 pick in the past three years. They made Auburn pitcher Casey Mize the top pick in 2018, and added outfielder Riley Greene with the fifth pick in 2019.

McDaniel said Detroit prefers “SEC performance, specifically that conference, and power bats and power arms.” Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin, who plays second base, third base and center field, almost fits the mold, but he’ll “never be a huge power bat.” Because of that, he’s not a likely option for the Tigers.

Torkelson’s power is unquestioned, but he plays in the Pac-12.

In 17 games before the 2020 season was canceled due because of the coronavirus pandemic, Torkelson hit .340 with six home runs and 11 RBIs. The junior batted .337 with 54 homers in his career with the Sun Devils.

The only player near the top of the board that fits the characteristics Detroit wants is 6-foot-4 Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy. He was 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 0.708 WHIP, 46 strikeouts and nine hits allowed in 24 innings before the season ended prematurely.

Lacy’s upside could lead him to become the next Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg, McDaniel said, if he can control the command of his pitches.

“He fits their preferences a little better than the other two guys,” he added, “even though he’s generally seen as the third-best prospect amongst these guys. My sources have told me that they see Torkelson as the best prospect and are probably going to take Torkelson, but Lacy is their second-best prospect. They’re also sort of considering it because they think they’re closer than most teams think they are.”

And McDaniel wasn’t shy in making an MLB comparison to Torkelson. He equated him to New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, last season’s National League Rookie of the Year winner who had 53 home runs and 120 RBIs.

That’s why Torkelson is too good to pass up on.

“Torkelson is described to me as at least a 90% likelihood to go to Detroit,” McDaniel said. “I think it’s probably more like 98%. (Agent) Scott Boras isn’t going to give them a number before the draft, so there’s not going to be a pre-draft deal, so it’s definitely not 100%.”

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