With no pre-draft contract negotiations allowed, it's never a 100% certainty.
But Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson is about "98 percent" to be selected by the Tigers with the No. 1 overall pick in next week's draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Kiley McDaniel.
"It's not really an actual conversation," McDaniel said Thursday on a conference call with reporters, explaining how Detroit is overwhelming expected to take Torkelson.
"There would have to be something really drastic" for it not to happen.
For the second time in three years, the Tigers have the No. 1 overall draft pick (yay, rebuilding!). In 2018, they took right-hander Casey Mize out of Auburn in an another anticlimactic decision.
This time, it's almost certainly Torkelson, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound behemoth out of Petaluma, California.
In a 2020 college season, a junior campaign, abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic, he had six home runs, 11 RBIs and 15 intentional walks. In a full 2019 season, Torkelson had 23 home runs and 66 RBIs.
At the time, almost all mock drafts are Torkelson, a first baseman; then Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin, then Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy. McDaniel said the Tigers' front office long has been smitten with SEC players, so Martin, in this case. The Tigers' recent top-of-draft history also has favored pitchers, so Lacy, who draws comparisons to Max Scherzer, in this case.
But Torkelson is too good, too dynamic — too close to being an impact everyday bat in an MLB lineup. And the Tigers, McDaniel said, believe they're closer to contending again than most around baseball believe.
As a comparison, McDaniel likens Torkelson to somebody like New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso, who as a rookie in 2019 had 53 home runs and 120 RBIs in winning National League rookie-of-the-year honors. McDaniel said Torkelson grades out as a potential 40-homer guy.
"He's done everything he can do as an amateur," McDaniel said.
Torkelson, who turns 21 in August, has Scott Boras as an adviser, soon to be his agent. He'll be hammering a contract that will exceed an $8 million signing bonus — well more than half of the Tigers' $13,325,700 pool for this year's draft, which is only five rounds.
Beyond the first round, McDaniel said it's anybody's guess, given the dynamics of this year's draft.
McDaniel did say college players will be especially preferred, given most high-school baseball stars didn't have any season in 2020, so there was a lack of action to scout. And prep players are traditionally riskier than college players, anyway.
Torkelson, a two-time unanimous All-American, would be the third first baseman taken No. 1 overall, after Ron Blomberg by the New York Yankees in 1967 and Adrian Gonzalez by the then-Florida Marlins in 2000.
After the five rounds are up, teams can sign an unlimited amount of undrafted players for up to $20,000 each.
2020 MLB Draft
When: June 10-11
Schedule: June 10 will be include the first 37 picks — first round and Competitive Balance Round A; June 11 will include the final four rounds
TV: June 10, 7 p.m., MLB Network/ESPN; June 11, 5 p.m., MLB Network/ESPN2