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2020 MLB Draft recap with Arizona State coach Ben Greenspan

by Roshan Fernandez, 06-20-2020

2020 MLB Draft recap with Arizona State coach Ben Greenspan

Ben Greenspan had never seen anyone hit a ball further than one-third of the way up the Arizona State batter’s eye. In one batting practice before the 2018 season, then-freshman Spencer Torkelson asked the ASU associate head coach about it — had anyone ever hit the sign on top of the batter’s eye? Greenspan said no.

The next round, Torkelson stepped into the cage and did it.

"It was like, this is freakish. Absolutely freakish," Greenspan said. "The belief in himself that 'I can do anything.'"

Following last week's shortened MLB Draft, which saw seven former Chatham Anglers come off the board, including Torkelson as the first overall pick, Greenspan joined The Hook podcast. He described the Petaluma, California native as “a threat, on every single pitch, to hit the ball out of the ballpark.” 

It’s a trait that stems from immense self-confidence, Greenspan said, and allows Torkelson to hit deep into counts without taking anything off his swing.

“Offensively, I think he’s mature beyond his years,” Greenspan said. “I think he’s one of the smartest hitters I’ve ever been around.” 

Torkelson, who went undrafted out of high school, points to the third day of the 2017 draft as a turning point in his career. It was then, when he wasn't selected, that Torkelson told himself he “was gonna be a first rounder out of ASU.” 

“It’s not the story of a guy who was under a rock and was undiscovered,” Greenspan said of high-school Torkelson. “He was a guy that was seen by a lot of people, and wasn’t drafted. That’s what motivated him.”

Alongside Torkelson were Burl Carraway, Kaden Polcovich, and RJ Dabovich, among others. Carraway’s stint with Chatham was brief — he arrived on the Cape after an NCAA Regionals run, threw a scoreless inning, and then departed for the U.S. Collegiate National Team. 

Polcovich, on the other hand, grew immensely during his 42 games on the Cape last summer. Though he initially “wasn’t supposed to do much in this league,” he developed into an everyday starter and a reliable crunchtime player. He joined the Mariners as the 78th overall pick. 

And Dabovich, Torkelson’s ASU teammate who passed on his 18th round selection by the Kansas City Royals in 2018 to continue playing college ball, rose to the fourth round this year. 

Those four former Anglers were joined by Jeremy Wu-Yelland, Dane Acker, and Kyle Hurt to make up Chatham’s 2020 draft class. Since the draft’s conclusion, six other former Chatham players have also signed as undrafted free agents, as of June 19. 

On this episode of The Hook, broadcasters Emmanuel Berbari and Josh Schaefer recap the draft, plus Greenspan joins the show to discuss Torkelson. His full interview, and much more, is available on our latest podcast.