Since the Marlins began their rebuild in the winter of 2017, their sights have been locked onto young talent, from whichever avenue they could find it. We’ve heard the talk of pursuing international prospects like José Salas and Junior Sánchez, they signed the Mesa brothers, we’ve seen some results from the big trades, and we’ve caught a glimpse of their draft approach in 2018 (the first one under new ownership).
Despite all the efforts made by the Marlins front office, many of their recently acquired bats have fallen flat.
Lewis Brinson—famously acquired in return for Christian Yelich—has not established himself in the major leagues. He’s now in Triple-A New Orleans trying to bring back the approach and offensive prowess that made him one of baseball’s most highly touted prospects. Miami’s 2018 first-rounder, Connor Scott, has struggled to lift off in his first full year as a pro. Victor Victor Mesa (High-A Jupiter) struggles to get on base and hit for power (despite an encouraging 11% strikeout rate). And the list goes on—many of the batters the Marlins have expected high-level production from have underachieved.
Even though there’s no hurry to give up on these talented young players, the Marlins will have to address the issue by investing in depth at several positions.
Luckily, what they lack in hitting, they have in pitching. This gives them the flexibility to target batters in the upcoming 2019 draft, and possibly 2020 as well. The Marlins secured the fourth overall pick by finishing 63-98 last year. This year, possessing the National League’s worst record, they appear to be destined for another early selection...potentially No. 1 overall.
The name already leading the way for their 2020 draft hopes? Spencer Torkelson.
In his two years at Arizona State University, Torkelson has checked every box at the plate.
- Mature approach, shown by his 14% walk rate
- Regularly makes contact, only striking out 16% of the time with a .340 batting average
- Not only does he have a knack for putting the ball in play, he can also crush it
“Tork” absolutely destroyed Barry Bonds’ ASU freshman home run record of 11 homers (both Bonds and Torkelson had exactly 206 at-bats). He also became the first freshman to lead Division I in homers since 1965 by hitting a whopping 25 home runs in 2018.
While his power numbers are “down” from last year, Torkelson still has an impressive 21 home runs. That ranks 10th in all of Division I baseball and is only one shy of his teammate, Hunter Bishop, a likely top-15 pick in the 2019 draft.
AND CRUSH IT LIKE TORK.— Sun Devil Baseball (@ASU_Baseball) May 19, 2019
Let's @byrnes22's reaction tell you everything you need to know about this one.@spennyt with #TorkBomb2️⃣1️⃣ and Devils are on the board! pic.twitter.com/blu91N5ltU
Torkelson’s head coach at ASU, Tracy Smith, has compared his power to Kyle Schwarber, who he coached at Indiana University. Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill says his overall profile “isn’t that different from [Kris] Bryant’s when he was coming out of San Diego.”
Interestingly enough, Torkelson wasn’t seen as a can’t-miss prospect coming out of high school. In fact, he hadn’t even stood out much in his first fall at ASU.
But the work he put in eventually led to results that simply were impossible to ignore. He is now the favorite to go first overall in the 2020 MLB Draft. Whichever teams earns the first selection next year will be extremely fortunate. The other 29 teams likely won’t even get a chance to select him.
Torkelson fits into the Marlins rebuild with a high-profile bat to complement whichever hitter they select with the fourth overall pick in 2019.
Combining him with more established hitters like Brian Anderson, Jorge Alfaro, Monte Harrison and Isan Díaz, plus the wealth of young pitching moving up the pipeline, Marlins fans can find the bright side to all this losing. #TankForTork