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'Wild week': Torkelson, Mize soak in Tigers camp

@beckjason
July 7, 2020

DETROIT – Matthew Boyd and Miguel Cabrera were talking in the Tigers' clubhouse when Spencer Torkelson walked by. "As he was walking down the hallway, Miggy started yelling at him: 'Hey, get on this side of the locker room soon. We need you,'" Boyd said. That was the welcome to

DETROIT – Matthew Boyd and Miguel Cabrera were talking in the Tigers' clubhouse when Spencer Torkelson walked by.

"As he was walking down the hallway, Miggy started yelling at him: 'Hey, get on this side of the locker room soon. We need you,'" Boyd said.

That was the welcome to Summer Camp for the No. 1 overall pick from last month’s MLB Draft.

"Miggy’s the man,” Torkelson said Monday. “I met him once and he’s been so nice. For a Hall of Famer to say that, it’s special and it’s something that I’ll never forget. Second day in the organization and Miggy’s saying that, it’s really cool.”

Torkelson puts on show in BP

Earlier on Monday, another top overall pick had his spotlight moment. Casey Mize had hoped this would be the summer for him to take the mound at Comerica Park and unleash his nasty splitter. And on a hot Monday afternoon, he did -- to his teammates.

It was a simulated game against a lineup that included Jorge Bonifacio, Dawel Lugo, Eric Haase and Brandon Dixon, but the motivation of the moment was real for Mize.

“Every time I toe the rubber, I want it to be up here,” Mize said. “I want that to be my reality. It’s really good to get back out there and just feel that mound, look at the stadium and just realize that this is what I want on a consistent basis. I’m going to do whatever I can to make that happen.”

While Summer Camp is primarily meant to get a Major League team ready for a 60-game sprint of a season, it’s clear there’s a lot of excitement in Tigers camp about the future. Detroit’s top-rated pitching prospects already made their impression in Spring Training. Add in Torkelson, second-round pick Dillon Dingler and last year’s first-round pick Riley Greene, and at least for the next few weeks, the future is in Detroit.

Torkelson in particular is soaking it all in. In the span of a week, he signed for the largest bonus by a top overall pick in the Draft-pool era, received a spot in the Tigers' camp, put on a big league jersey with his name on it, took batting practice in a Major League ballpark, hit a ball out of the deepest part of spacious Comerica Park and got the aforementioned reaction out of Cabrera.

“Pretty wild week,” Torkelson said. “I do have time to take a step back and realize what’s going on, but yeah, it’s been one of the best weeks ever.”

He also had a long-awaited chance to work with Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, who had scouted and met him in February during a visit to Arizona State. Trammell is also expected to be part of the project to help Torkelson transition from first to third base.

He didn’t need long to realize what that meant.

“My dad knew about him,” Torkelson said. “He’s like, ‘You know who you’re talking to, right?’ I’m like, 'Yeah, I follow baseball and all, but I don’t know the name.' And he’s like, ‘He’s a Hall of Fame shortstop.’

“I guess it was good that I didn’t know that before I started talking to him, because I would’ve got a little intimidated.”

Torkelson and Mize also had a chance to meet, albeit briefly, at the hotel where they’re both staying.

“It was short,” Torkelson said. “We touched elbows. Casey’s a great dude, from everyone I know in the organization, he’s a great guy and a great pitcher, too.”

Said Mize: “I talked to him for a bit there, just told him congratulations. It’s something to really be proud of. It’s going to change his life forever, and I’m super happy for him. And then ever since then, I’ve kind of seen him in the clubhouse, just saying hello.”

They didn’t get into advice about the pressure of being the top overall pick. But if it had, Mize’s advice would be simple.

“I would just say when it comes to an expectations standpoint, because the word expectation is going to be brought up a lot to him, my advice would be to just have internal expectations and just do your best to fulfill that,” Mize said. “Everybody’s going to have different thoughts or expectations of you, and you’re not going to be able to make everybody happy. Somebody’s going to be wrong. A lot of people are going to be wrong. So why should you feel that burden?

“Obviously you want to exceed the good expectations, but man, just set internal goals, short term, long term, achieve those. And if you do that, I think you’re going to make a lot of people happy. You’re going to make yourself happy, which is most important, and you’re going to help your team win a lot of games along the way.”

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.