Torkelson had a pair of opposite-field hits off Altoona right-hander Jeff Passantino, who attacked hitters with a combination of soft cutters and breaking balls. His first-inning line drive was a two-out single after fouling off the first pitch. His third-inning connection with an offspeed pitch did a lot more damage. The drive headed towards the scoreboard in right-center for a solo homer to build a 3-2 Erie lead.
“[Against] that guy, you’ve gotta try not to do too much,” Torkelson said. “You get yourself out against guys like that. In my first at-bat, I kind of swung a little too hard and fouled it back and I said, ‘Gosh.’ I went to a two-strike approach and said to just shoot something the other way, get locked in and then go from there, and that’s exactly what I did.”
The 2-for-4 performance closed out Torkelson’s first week at Double-A, in which he hit .304 (7-for-23) with two homers, two doubles, two walks and seven RBIs. He went 0-for-4 Tuesday after driving over from High-A West Michigan, hit two doubles Wednesday night and was fine from there.
“I’d be lying if I said after 0-for-4 you’re still relaxed as if you were 4-for-4,” he said, “but it does feel nice up there trusting my ability and trusting my approach.”
The jump up a level did little to slow the tear that he began last month with the Whitecaps following a slow start to his pro career. Add the levels together, and he’s batting .311 (41-for-132) with seven homers, 35 RBIs and a 1.008 OPS.
“I guess it’s just trusting the process and trusting myself mostly,” he said. “Struggling at the beginning of the year really helped me find myself even more and actually made me a better player. I’m really a lot better because of it, and it’s showing right now.”
Torkelson also made an impact defensively over three consecutive starts at first base. On Sunday, he made a lunging catch of a leaping throw from shortstop Ryan Kreidler deep in the hole for an out to end the top of the sixth inning.