PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Whitecaps player Spencer Torkelson will be straight with you: The way the 2021 season started here in West Michigan wasn’t ideal.
There was a lot of pressure, which is fitting for the number one draft pick from just a season ago.
Moving from college baseball to the professional ranks at any level was going to be an adjustment, though, and Torkelson knew that.
Some fans and outsiders, however, want instant results.
For most of the month of May — when Torkelson was hovering around the .200 batting average line — there were plenty of social media posts and other comments being critical of the top prospect in Detroit’s organization.
Now, with a batting average of .400 (12-for-30) in nine games in the month of June, Torkelson is showing exactly why he was taken so high in the MLB Draft.
Since May 22 when the former Arizona State star hit his first home run, Torkelson is 19-of-48 (.395) with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He’s raised his batting average to .286, the second highest average on the team, behind Dillon Dingler who leads at .309.
The stat that sticks out more than anything is his on base percentage, which leads the team at .438. Torkelson has drawn 24 walks, which leads all of High-A Central baseball.
Nine of those walks have come in the last nine games.
Torkelson is getting what he wants at the plate right now.
“I’ve been able to slow the game down a little bit recently, I’m seeing pitches even better than I normally do,” Torkelson said. “I’m feeling good up there, and this is what I do when things are going this way. I’m able to take more pitches and get on top of the one I want. Things just feel good right now.”
Thursday was one of Torkelson’s best nights as a Whitecap, with a 10-0 win against the Lansing Lugnuts.
He went 3-for-3 with two walks, scoring three runs. Every slider that darted down in the zone, Torkelson took or fouled off until he got his pitch or earned a walk.
With the entire lineup heating up around him, Torkelson says it has helped gain confidence in the batter’s box to put together nights like last night.
“It starts with how good our pitching and defense was last night, but we were able to string together some hits and it becomes contagious throughout our lineup,” Torkelson said. “We put in the work in the cages so it’s fun to see it turn out on the field.”
The Whitecaps have been able to raise their batting average to .237 as a team, which has put them in the middle of the rankings for High-A Central ball. It started the season in the bottom of the rankings.
When the bat start heating up like it has for a highly touted player like Torkelson, the questions arise about him being moved up to the next level.
Right now, Torkelson is in no hurry to move on. He’s focused on where he is right now, helping the Whitecaps compete.
“I think all you can do is focus on the now,” Torkelson said. “Go out there each day and give it all you have for the guys next to you. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, focus on today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.”
While Torkelson’s mindset has him focused on playing baseball here in West Michigan, this is exactly the kind of player the Detroit Tigers were hoping for when they drafted him: A great hitter with a phenomenal eye and a high on-base percentage with some power.
Torkelson is getting comfortable, it just took a little patience.
“I have an approach I like to use every time I go up there and that’s to see the ball big and slow the pitch down,” Torkelson said. “If the pitch is going to be out of the zone, it’s less likely I can do damage with it. So I’m up there to hit my pitch.”