No. 1 draft pick Spencer Torkelson signs with Tigers, added to 60-man player pool

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

The newest cat is in the bag.

The Tigers have signed Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, the team announced Tuesday.

According to’s Jim Callis, the deal includes a record signing bonus of $8,416,300, and a signing contingency bonus of $2,500. The total value of the contract is more than the slot value, making Torkelson the first player in the era of rookie pools to surpass the slot value.

His deal also tops the total for last year’s top overall pick, Adley Rutschman, who got $8.1 million from the Orioles.

By signing their other five draft picks first, the Tigers were able to leave enough in the coffers to fit Torkelson’s record deal. They exceeded the overall pool amount, but because they were less than 5% over, they will not lose future draft picks.

Torkelson, 20, who starred as a first baseman at Arizona State, is projected to move to third base with the Tigers. He will be available in the 60-man player pool for the start of the 2020 Summer Camp, which begins this week at Comerica Park.

“Spencer is exactly the type of player we hoped would be there for us with the top pick in this year’s draft,” Scott Pleis, Tigers director of amateur scouting, said after the draft. “He’s one of the most polished hitters we’ve seen in the draft for quite some time, showing plus-plus power and excellent plate discipline.”

Tigers players begin reporting Wednesday; workouts for pitchers and catchers begin on Friday, with full-squad workouts starting on Monday. The Tigers will open the regular season July 23 or 24 with a 30-man roster, with the remaining 30 players completing workouts in Toledo at Fifth Third Field as reserves for the 60-game regular season.

Torkelson confirmed the move with a post on Instagram that included a picture of him in a Tigers uniform: “It’s official…Go Tigers”

At Arizona State, Torkelson was a unanimous All-America selection and hit .337 with 33 doubles, 54 home runs — just two shy of the school record — and 130 RBIs in his two-plus seasons.

He earned his reputation as an exceptional power hitter who eventually should hit in the middle of the Tigers’ batting order when he gets to the major leagues. Torkelson hit 25 home runs during his freshman season and followed with 23 as a sophomore. In his junior season, Torkelson added six home run and 11 RBIs in 17 games, as the season was shortened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He’s got tremendous makeup,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said. “He’s a model guy in the clubhouse and on the field — he’s a vicious competitor. But off the field, he’s a great kid. We really feel he can be a homegrown star player for us.”

Torkelson, a native of Petaluma, Calif., played at Casa Grande High School, posting impressive numbers: a .430 batting average with 11 home runs, 32 doubles and 99 RBIs in 110 games.

With Torkelson’s deal done, the Tigers have reached agreements with all six of their draft picks from this year.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard