Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson, Dillon Dingler look forward to next step: Double-A

Detroit Free Press

As soon as the announcement was made Sunday evening, alarm bells went off all around the Detroit Tigers fanbase.

Spencer Torkelson and Dillon Dingler were headed to Double-A and the Erie SeaWolves.

“It was pretty hectic. We were told Sunday around 5 or 6 p.m. and had to pack everything up and get here for (Tuesday’s) game,” Dingler said on Tuesday afternoon from UPMC Park in Erie.

Torkelson joined him there.

“I was lucky my parents were in town so we could share that moment and they could help me move,” Torkelson said.

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The duo made their Erie debuts on Tuesday night. Torkelson went 0-for-4 with a strikeout hitting third for the SeaWolves, while Dingler singled in his first at-bat hitting fourth, and finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Erie defeated the visiting Altoona Curve, 4-3, with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Many eyes have been on the two of them since they were taken in the first two rounds of the 2020 MLB draft. Torkelson was the No. 1 overall pick by the Tigers, and Dingler was Detroit’s second-round pick, which was 38th overall.

Torkelson, a corner infielder, is the No. 1-rated prospect for the Tigers, according to MLB.com, while Dingler, a catcher, is No. 4. The two join No. 2 Riley Greene, an outfielder, and infielders Ryan Kreidler (No. 21) and Andre Lipcius (No. 27) to make up one of the most talented lineups in SeaWolves history.

“I’ll miss everyone in West Michigan, but I’m excited to join this group and I heard they’ve been swinging it,” Torkelson said. “Someone said the SeaWolves haven’t lost a series yet so I’m really looking forward to playing with these guys.”

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Torkelson, 21, is regarded as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball after an impressive career at Arizona State. He is the third No. 1 overall draft pick to ever play for the SeaWolves. Tim Belcher was the No. 1 pick in 1983 and made a rehab start for the SeaWolves in 2000 while with the Angels. Casey Mize was the No. 1 pick in 2018 and made a big splash with Erie by throwing a no-hitter in his first Double-A start in 2019.

While Torkelson will navigate first base and third base, Dingler will spend his time getting to know the pitching staff.

“I just want to keep my same approach that has helped me along the way and I’ve picked up some things along the way in my first year of professional baseball,” Dingler said. “I’m really looking forward to keep developing.”

Dingler, 22, was drafted out of Ohio State, where he was converted from an outfielder to a catcher his freshman year.

The two spent time at the alternate training site in Toledo last year during the pandemic, and both are excited to be playing competitive baseball this year.

“There were ups and downs over the past year, but I’ve really acclimated to professional baseball and embraced the challenge,” Torkelson said.

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“There was nothing we could do about the pandemic so just trying to control what you can control,” said Dingler. “It’s nice to have Spencer up here with me because we were roommates on the road last year and got pretty close playing in Detroit and Toledo and West Michigan. It has been a lot of fun.”

Dingler was hitting .287 with six doubles, eight home runs and 24 RBIs with West Michigan this year, while Torkelson was hitting .312 with 17 extra-base hits and 28 RBIs.

The two were in the starting lineup for the SeaWolves on Tuesday with Torkelson hitting third and playing third base and Dingler catching and hitting fourth.

A huge portion of the Detroit fanbase will track the SeaWolves with five top-30 prospects in the lineup.

With all of that attention, Torkelson and Dingler will continue to deal with the pressure of being top prospects.

“You try not to think about it and just be professional about things everyday,” Dingler said. “You go about your business understanding this is a process and try to learn as much as you can to stay on an even keel.”

“You go about your work every day and be yourself,” Torkelson said. “I’m focusing on working hard and being a good teammate. When you do those things, it takes care of the extra noise around you.”

Contact Tom Reisenweber at treisenweber@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNreisenweber.

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