Torkelson hits first professional homer

Detroit Tigers

The first Tork Bomb of Spencer Torkelson’s pro career was well worth the wait. The Tigers top prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 overall prospect broke his home run drought with a drive off the batters-eye in straightaway center for High-A West Michigan as part of a four-hit doubleheader Saturday at Wisconsin.

Torkelson got off to a slow start for the Whitecaps after spending Spring Training in big league camp with the Tigers. He has been heating up all week on the road, culminating with several big swings Saturday.

Torkelson saw a steady diet of breaking balls in Saturday’s first game, pulling a two-run single through the left side. He came back up with two outs in the fifth inning and crushed a first-pitch breaking ball over the plate.

The drive looked a lot like the majestic shots he hit at Arizona State that earned him Detroit’s selection with the first overall pick in last summer’s MLB Draft. It kept carrying until it was well beyond the center-field fence. The drive was estimated at 419 feet, according to Whitecaps radio play-by-play man Dan Hasty.

There was no big celebration from Torkelson, who jogged around the bases and got a low-five from Whitecaps manager Brayan Pena on his way around third.

Torkelson came within feet of another home run his next time up in the seventh inning, this time with an opposite-field loft that carried to the warning track in the right-field corner. The ball bounced out of Carlos Rodriguez’s glove as he tried for a running catch, giving Torkelson a single.

Torkelson hit another single that fell beyond Wisconsin first baseman Chad McClanahan’s reach in Game 2 and had another well-struck opposite-field drive that stayed in the park for an out.

The four-hit, three-RBI doubleheader continued Torkelson’s warmup in the High-A Central. He enters Sunday’s series finale batting 7-for-17 for the week with six RBIs, barely missing a home run Tuesday with a hard-hit line drive off the top of the high left-field wall, while raising his season average from .146 to .224. Just as important, he has four walks and one strikeout for the series after fanning 17 times over his first 11 games this year.

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