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ASU baseball’s Spencer Torkelson has season cut short ahead of MLB Draft

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2019, file photo, Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson bats during an NCAA college baseball game against Notre Dame in Phoenix. Torkelson is only the third player in Pac-12 history to hit 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons and is a projected top-three pick in the draft. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

Spencer Torkelson was three home runs away from breaking the ASU record for round-trippers in a career.

Already projected to be one of the top picks in the 2020 MLB Draft, the ASU baseball junior still had unfinished business between the home run record and a College World Series in Omaha. Then, the coronavirus pandemic canceled the rest of the college baseball season.

“I’m really satisfied with how everything went for me, but I was anxious to play this year because I knew what we had, I knew what potential a lot of players on our team had,” Torkelson said. “I knew that a lot of guys were going to prove themselves. So I was satisfied with what I’ve done, but I wanted to do more. I wanted other guys to do more.

“Other guys that have worked two years to get to the point where they’re at, didn’t have the freshman year that I had, they had a decent sophomore year but this is the year that they were working for and that got cut short. So that’s what hurts me most. It’s not even about me. It’s about my best friends that got hurt the most.”

Like most, Torkelson finds himself at home with more free time on his hands. A timeline for the much-awaited MLB Draft is now murky, and he’s passing the days by staying in shape.

“I’m staying healthy, working out a bunch,” he said. “I just built a batting cage in my backyard like a week and a half ago. Having that’s nice. I’m lucky to have a batting cage in my backyard to stay on top of my game. But my brother’s playing catch with me, uncle’s throwing batting practice to me. I’m getting it done. Not the way I wanted to, but the way I have to right now.”

The news that his final season of college baseball was canceled came as a surprise, and was followed by an initial feeling of disbelief.

“It’d be like a Friday night, I’d have a reminder on my calendar saying we’re playing Utah tonight or something. So that really sucked, and then I deleted all my calendar dates. It was like a bad breakup,” he said with a laugh. “But I don’t know. It took me a couple weeks, but everyone kept reminding me, ‘It’s out of your control, you can’t do anything about it.'”

As for the home run record, Torkelson got a call from Bob Horner, the 1978 Rookie of the Year for the Atlanta Braves who still holds the career benchmark for ASU with 56. Torkelson, who has 54 homers, said Horner was highly sympathetic that the young prospect didn’t get a chance to finish what he started.

“I think he might have been more mad about it than me,” Torkelson said.

If it’s any consolation, a professional baseball career more than likely awaits him.

“I haven’t put much thought into [possibly being the No. 1 pick],” Torkelson said. “But it gives you goosebumps just even talking about being drafted. Being drafted in the first place is an accomplishment, but to be in the conversation at the very top is very humbling and nice to have.”

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