Does Shortened MLB Draft Make First Pick Obvious For Tigers?

Torkelson or Martin? What about Gonzales?

Will Burchfield
May 11, 2020 - 12:42 pm

The Tigers were prepared for the news, but it still came as a bummer. The MLB Draft will be sliced from 40 rounds to five, in a year Detroit has the best seat at the table. 

"It’s unfortunate timing with respect to the Tigers’ evolution into what we hope and believe will be a competitive team again in the next few years," MLB Network's Jon Morosi told the Jamie and Stoney Show. ... "There’s no question that instead of having 40 rounds to add depth to the organization, with the Tigers picking at the top of each round, you’re only going to have five of them, it's certainly a detriment."

If there's any upside for the Tigers, it might be the clarity they've gained with the first overall pick. With the club likely deciding between Arizona State 1B Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt SS Austin Martin (with New Mexico State 2B Nick Gonzales possibly in the mix as well), there's an increased premium on the player with the highest floor. 

That looks like Torkelson. 

"I think it really just underscores the need for the Tigers to be really exacting and to get that first pick right. Does it make them more likely to take Torkelson because he is regarded as being something of the surest bat there is in the draft? Perhaps. I think there’s a pretty good chance that they will take Torkelson," Morosi said. "But it really just accentuates the importance of each pick they make, and to make sure they find a real lineup mainstay with this first pick." 

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Torkelson, who broke Barry Bonds' freshman homerun record at ASU in 2018, was off to a scorching start this season before play was suspended due to the coronavirus. He'd fill a long-term need for the Tigers at first base, and he'd make an impact as soon as next year. The same could generally be said of Martin, arguably the most complete player in the draft. 

It's the one thing working in the Tigers' advantage this year. They need an impact bat at the top of the draft, and they won't have to reach to get one. Right now, Torkelson to Detroit feels like the outcome on June 10. 

Meanwhile, MLB continues to push toward a return, with the league's 30 owners prepared to present their latest proposal to the Players Association this week. The goal is to be playing regular season games by the beginning of July. 

"Getting the game back on the field, when it’s safe to do so, is of paramount importance to the future of baseball and also to the country, from the standpoint of building that routine and consistency back into our lives," Morosi said. "Baseball is a really powerful sport, because it is every day and it gives us that routine that if you turn on the TV at 7:00, the Tigers are there. There’s such great comfort in that."