Tigers top prospect Spencer Torkelson still is looking for his first professional home run. But on Saturday night, he had his first big hit.
Torkelson delivered the first walk-off of his short career in the Tigers’ farm system, with a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps a 2-1 win over the Great Lakes Loons in Comstock Park.
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The winning hit came after he had just missed ending the game, when his shattered-bat flyball to left landed 6 inches foul. The Whitecaps dugout had already started celebrating. They soon got to celebrate, for real.
“I felt great going up to the plate,” Torkelson told Whitecaps broadcaster Dan Hasty in a Sunday morning interview. “I pretty much told myself there’s no other option, we’re winning this game right now.
“We all wanted to get out of the rain and go home happy.”
Torkelson, 21, drafted first overall out of Arizona State last summer, is off to a slow start. He scuffled a bit in spring training — at the plate and trying to open a can without a can opener — and is batting .167 through his first 10 games with the Whitecaps.
But he is seeing the ball, walking enough for a .354 on-base percentage.
“I got the first 10 out of the way,” Torkelson, who’s played seven games at third base and three at first, told Hasty. “And, you know, we’re just ready to get some more wins and have an even-better next 10 games.”
West Michigan is home to the Tigers’ top four picks from the 2020 MLB Draft: Torkelson, catcher Dillon Dingler, outfielder Daniel Cabrera and infielder Trei Cruz.