Tigers, Blue Jays make top-five overall draft picks

A close-up of the batters boxes and home plate on a vacant baseball diamond. © Can Stock Photo / ca2hill

There’s no baseball being played at the moment, but teams have begun restocking their farm systems for the future.

Major League Baseball held the first round of its 2020 Draft Monday night, and both the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays had picks in the top five.

The Tigers, who have stocked their farm operation with pitching, turned to the plate this time with their first-overall pick, selecting slugging infielder Spencer Torkelson from Arizona State University.

Torkelson was chosen as a third baseman, though he has seen action all around the horn. This season with Arizona State, he hit .340 with six home runs, 11 RBIs and 31 walks in 17 games. Many baseball commentators gave Torkelson their highest offensive marks out of this year’s draft prospects, and believed his path to the major leagues may be a short one.

Detroit had the first overall pick in the draft as a consequence of having the worst record in baseball in 2019. The Tigers also had the first pick in 2018 when they chose pitcher Casey Mize.

The Blue Jays, also looking to rebuild, chose an infielder as well with their first-round choice, the fifth overall. Shortstop Austin Martin of Vanderbilt University got the call from Toronto.

The pick was Toronto’s highest in the draft since 1997, and some baseball experts branded the selection of Martin as a steal. Mock drafts had the Florida native going as high as number-two.

Previously drafted in the 37th round of the 2017 Draft by the Cleveland Indians, Martin did not sign and continued his college career. In 2019, while leading Vanderbilt to a College World Series title over Michigan, Martin led the Southeastern Conference in batting average at .392, on-base percentage at .486, and runs scored with 87.

The Draft continues Thursday afternoon, with the Tigers’ next pick as the first of the second round, or 38th overall, and the Jays choosing at 42nd.