The Detroit Tigers announced on Saturday that 22-year-old Spencer Torkelson has made the team’s opening day roster. The first baseman was the number one overall selection in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft and the Tigers are excited to have him with their big-league squad.
“We wanted to let him know, so at lunch, we pulled him in,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch told members of the media on Saturday, via the Detroit Free Press. “We included Miggy, the first baseman of the past with the first baseman of the future, and then let (Torkelson) know it’s first baseman of the present. He’s going to start on Opening Day, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Making the opening day roster has to be a real boost of confidence for the youngster, after going .280 (7-for-25) with four doubles, three RBIs, two walks, and four strikeouts in 12 games during spring training.
“I worked really hard to get here and I’m really happy to be in this position,” said Torkelson after finding out the news. “I’m ready to go.”
The youngster started off last season with the West Michigan Whitecaps of the High-A Central, but ended the season in Triple-A East with the Toledo Mud Hens. He has already made quite the impression with his new teammates, with Miguel Cabrera pushing for Torkelson to make the roster.
“That really helped with confidence,” Torkelson said, “and just feeling like, you know what, I do belong, because I got Miguel Cabrera saying I belong in the lineup. It’s really special. He has no idea how much it means to me.”
While Torkelson will start the season in MLB with the Tigers, there is no guarantee he will remain there for the entire campaign. The team will be keeping a close eye on his progress and determine where they believe he should be playing based on how he develops.
“The main thing with him is the day-to-day preparation,” said Detroit general manager Al Avila, via the Detroit Free Press. “He’s battling in every at-bat. He’s not overmatched. At first base, he’s handling it very well. When you see him play on a daily basis, he looks like a guy that can handle anything that comes his way.”
While the news of Torkelson making the squad is definitely a positive for the Tigers organization heading into the campaign, they did get some bad news with outfielder Riley Greene suffering from a fracture in his right foot. He is currently the number five prospect in baseball but will be forced to miss the start of the season as a result of his injury. According to his general manager, he would likely have been included on the opening day roster as well.
“It was heading that way, I would say,” Avila said. “Riley wasn’t doing anything to discourage us. Unfortunately, the injury came at a bad time…Our hope is that he can get back on the field soon, and at that point, we can make another decision.”
The Tigers have been rebuilding for quite some time and are hoping that the process is paying off. They have failed to make the playoffs for seven consecutive years, with their last postseason appearance coming back in 2014. They will be pushing to end that drought this season.