Why Tigers' Alan Trammell is sold on Spencer Torkelson: 'No ballpark's gonna hold Tork'
Alan Trammell only needed about five minutes to see something special in Spencer Torkelson, the Detroit Tigers first-round draft pick.
“I really like this guy,” Trammell said back in February, while watching Torkelson play for Arizona State.
“Yeah, me too,” replied Scott Pleis, the Tigers' director of amateur scouting.
Trammell, the former Tigers great, believes Torkelson has the athleticism and arm strength to play third base, the internal drive to be something special and the natural power to blast home runs out of cavernous Comerica Park.
“It's gonna play in Comerica Park, too,” Trammell said. “I mean, it's one of the bigger ballparks in baseball, but no ballparks gonna hold Tork. There's no question about it."
That's as good as it gets: An Alan Trammell seal of approval.
In February, before Trammell went to spring training in Lakeland, Florida, he took a trip to Arizona to scout Torkelson and a few other players in a tournament. And he sat with Pleis.
“The first at-bat I saw, (Torkelson) had a 3-1 count,” Trammell, a special assistant to the general manager, said.
The right-fielder was playing deep, almost on the warning track.
“(Torkelson) hit the ball, just about off the wall," Trammell said. "The guy made a very nice catch over his head, going into the wall, and I'm thinking, 'Whoa!’ ”
The next time up, Torkelson battled to a full count again.
And he swung at a slider.
“They measured it at 435 feet,” Trammell said. “Now, at 3-2, you're not looking to do anything but make good solid contact. And he hit a home run that far on a slider. He is a strong young man and he's athletic and has good arm strength. So when you add all that together, you go, we got a special guy. There's no question about it.”
The more Trammell studied Torkelson, the more he saw an advanced hitter with a short, compact swing, which will help when he gets into a funk.
"Oftentimes power guys are trying to crank and create. He doesn't do that. And so that leads us to believe that it's going to be a little easier transition into professional baseball.”
Torkelson hit 54 home runs in 129 career games at Arizona State.
“He’s just a strong young young man," Trammell said. "Again, he has a little bit of a lift in his swing that you see the power guys have that when he hits it, it's gone.”
A third baseman?
It wasn’t just the home runs.
Trammell was impressed by Torkelson's footwork, defense and his arm.
“It's a better than average arm strength," Trammell said.
Trammell was even impressed watching Torkelson run the bases. “That's another thing that was stood out on again, this is this is not a normal guy,” Trammell said.
Add it all together — the footwork, the glove, the arm strength — and Trammell sees a third baseman.
“That's why we feel that we can try him over at third," Trammell said. "We're going to give it a shot. We believe that he can do it.”
The Tigers should be commended for using Trammell like this, and he should be given for doing this kind of work. I mean, who knows more about infielders than Alan Freakin' Trammell? Just tapping into his expertise, knowledge and experience carries so much credibility.
But there is more.
Trammell can sense an internal drive in Torkelson, a player who wasn't drafted coming out of high school.
“I love the drive of a kid that wasn't drafted," Trammell said. "Obviously, he wasn't physically and mentally mature at that point. But in three years, just listen to the way he answers the questions. This is a nice addition to the Tiger organization."
So when the Tigers announced Torkelson as a third baseman, it stunned many.
But Trammell saw it as something else.
“That's a compliment to Spencer," Trammell said. "If it doesn't work out, we know he can play first, but it can help your organization if he can. And so we're definitely going to give it a shot.”
It's wild, in a way, listening to a Hall of Famer gush about a college kid
But then, maybe, that's the point.
Who says Torkelson can play third? Who says ?no ballpark's gonna hold Tork?"
Alan Freakin' Trammell.
Try to find a better stamp of approval than that.
Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.