Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson is known for his massive home runs, but there’s a great personality behind it. The same guy who hit 30 home runs in his first pro season last year also helped the grounds crew pull the tarp in a sudden rainstorm in Binghamton, NY, while playing for Double-A Erie.
The same guy who was the No. 1 overall Draft pick in 2020 and is MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 4 overall prospect became known for cutting his thumb in a can-opening incident last Spring Training, and he was willing to double up this spring in the house he shared with fellow Detroit prospects Riley Greene (No. 2), Ryan Kreidler (No. 7), Eric De La Rosa and Parker Meadows (No. 20).
A day after Torkelson learned he had made the Tigers’ Opening Day roster, he sat down with MLB.com for a quick interview:
MLB.com: How many tickets are you having to get for Opening Day?
Torkelson: Nothing crazy, actually. Some guys told me, “Well, I had 20.” But especially since it’s Opening Day, tickets are going to be hard to get. So I think 12 is a good number.
MLB.com: So mainly close family?
Torkelson: Close family. I think the friends are going to wait until later on.
MLB.com: Like when the weather warms up?
Torkelson: Probably. They’re soft.
MLB.com: Can you explain the story about how you got the No. 20?
Torkelson: So at ASU, freshman year, they gave us numbers to chose from. I want to say, like, 12 numbers for the 12 freshmen, and we all picked our top five. And I don’t remember; I know I picked 19, a couple other numbers. None of them were 20. And then, me not being a really high recruit, I didn’t get any of my choices. So they gave me 20. And it just stuck.
MLB.com: Have you ever been tempted to change numbers?
Torkelson: Not really, no.
MLB.com: Your middle name is Enochs. Where does that come from?
Torkelson: That’s my mother’s maiden name. It’s got “knocks” in it, so I like it.
(Tkelson’s uncle, Joe Enochs, was a player in German soccer, as J Morosi chronicled year.)
MLB.com: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Torkelson: I love watching Barry Bonds. I was a big Giants fan, so just seeing the things that he accomplished is pretty special. It felt normal at the time, but 15-20 years later, it’s like what he did was unbelievable.
MLB.com: First baseball game you attended?
Torkelson: I don’t remember, but I know I lost my first tooth at a game in Colorado at Coors Field. I bit into an ice cream and my tooth came out.
MLB.com: Were you a love-Giants, hate-A’s kind of fan?
Torkelson: No, I never understood that, you know? Because as I got older, I was like, “I could play for these teams come Draft time.” I was a fan of baseball.
MLB.com: Your Arizona State bio shows you pitched in 16 games at high school. How did that come about and what kind of pitcher were you?
Torkelson: I was a pretty good pitcher in Little League, and it kind of faded out towards high school. I think I topped out at, like, 87, nothing crazy. But I had a good curveball.
MLB.com: I was going to ask what the secondary pitch was off that 87 mph fastball.
Torkelson: Yeah, I had a nasty 12-6.
MLB.com: Speaking of high school, your hometown of Petaluma, Calif., has a couple high schools.
Torkelson: Two public and then one small private.
MLB.com: How big is the rivalry?
Torkelson: It’s pretty big in my hometown. They call it the Egg Bowl. In Petaluma, they’re known as the egg capital of the world, and so it’s the Egg Bowl. It’s big in football, but it transfers over every other sport. It’s a fun rivalry.
MLB.com: And lastly, since we have to bring up the cooking, is there a favorite dish that you like to cook?
Torkelson: Oh, gosh. I enjoy this salmon recipe that I’ve discovered. It’s like salmon and Brussels sprout and rice. I’ve got it mastered now.
MLB.com: Are you picking up different dishes as you go along?
Torkelson: No, it’s tough to cook when you’re at the yard so much and they supply all the meals for the most part. So if you’re not getting a team meal, you’re probably too tired to cook and don’t want to do dishes, so you’re going out somewhere.