Torkelson: State’s Latest No. 1 MLB Pick

Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 player chosen in Wednesday’s MLB Draft, is shown as a player at Casa Grande (Petaluma) & Arizona State. Photos: &

Graduate from Casa Grande of Petaluma who was at Arizona State named as the No. 1 pick in this year’s MLB Draft on Wednesday by the Detroit Tigers. He’s the seventh No. 1 selection in the MLB Draft from a California high school in the last 12 years and he goes at the top one year after another one from the Redwood Empire, Maria Carrillo’s Andrew Vaughan, was chosen third overall. We also ended the night with six selections in first round, including perhaps the shocker of the night. Go inside for links to lists and features and for more on this year’s first round of the MLB Draft.


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The Redwood Empire area of California had its highest-ever player chosen in the annual Major League Baseball Draft last year when Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa grad Andrew Vaughn went at third overall by the Chicago White Sox.

On Wednesday, Spencer Torkelson surpassed that number. He was the first player chosen overall in Wednesday’s draft shown on ESPN and the MLB Network. Torkelson hails from Casa Grande High in Petaluma. He and Vaughan both were Cal-Hi Sports first team all-state picks as seniors in 2016 and 2017 and competed against each other for three seasons for teams in the same North Bay League of the CIF North Coast Section.

Royce Lewis circles the bases for JSerra during CIFSS playoff game. Photo: Rob Dolan Jr. & JSerra Baseball.

Torkelson, who played the last three seasons at Arizona State and became the highest-rated slugging prospect in the draft, also has become the seventh No. 1 pick in the last 12 years and the 17th No. 1 pick all-time from the state since the event began in 1965. The state’s last No. 1 selection was Royce Lewis from JSerra of San Juan Capistrano in 2017, which was one year after Carlsbad La Costa Canyon outfielder Mickey Moniak went at the top in 2016.

In his senior season at Casa Grande in 2017, Torkelson gained first team All-State honors. He was the North Bay League player of the year for the second time in his prep career after the Gauchos captured the league title. It’s safe to say that he might have had even more impressive high school statistics if he wasn’t walked 27 times that season. He still hit .481 with 41 runs scored and 43 runs batted in. In addition, more than half of his hits were extra base hits, including 12 doubles, a triple and seven home runs while he was also a perfect 10-for-10 on stolen base attempts.

Teams led by Torkelson and Vaughn faced each other three times during the 2016 season (Vaughn was a senior and Spencer a junior). They split in round-robin contests but Maria Carrillo went 12-2 while Casa went 10-4. Then in the league tournament final, Casa Grande won 13-5. Torkelson went 1-for-4 with three runs scored (he reached on error and he was hit by pitch). Vaughn went 2-for-4 with a homer.

Torkelson is represented by well-known agent Scott Boras and he was shown at home with family and friends in Petaluma as his name was announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

The draft this year was shortened by one pick with the Houston Astros having their first-round selection stripped due to the sign-stealing scandal. This year’s draft also has been drastically cut to just five rounds mainly because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Note: For our all-time list, we have counted everyone selected for MLB Draft in compensation rounds prior to the start of the second round. We also have listed the first high school player from the state chosen each year and there are times when that has occurred after the first round and compensation rounds.

Here are short bios of the five others from the state (both high school and college) who were chosen in this year’s MLB Draft.

Nick Yorke is shown during his sophomore season at Archbishop Mitty. Photo:

No. 17 Nick Yorke
(Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Red Sox

It didn’t look like Nick was candidate for the first round in all of the pre-draft mocks and previews. The University of Arizona signer, though, went to the Red Sox at No. 17 and there were undoubtedly a lot of gasps by a lot of the analysts. He’s been one of the top players in this class for the state, however, since he was a freshman starter (very rare in the super tough West Catholic Athletic League). With his size and bat, second base seems to be in his future. We covered one of the top Boston second basemen ever, Dustin Pedroia, when he was at Woodland and while some Red Sox fans may not like this pick, comparing Yorke as a prep player to Pedroia is legit.

No. 19 Pete Crow-Armstrong
(Harvard-Westlake, Studio City) Mets

This was right about at the spot that Pete was pegged to be taken. Another four-year prep player at an elite program that is a member of one of the best leagues in the nation, Crow-Armstrong is another recent first-rounder from Harvard-Westlake. An outfielder known for speed, defense and intensity, Pete follows the pitching duo of No. 7 Max Fried and No. 16 Lucas Giolito in 2012 and pitcher Jack Flaherty, the 2014 Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year taken at No. 34 in 2014.

No. 20 Garrett Mitchell (Lutheran, Orange) Brewers
One of the most athletic outfielders in the draft, it seemed surprising to many analysts that Mitchell (who has been a standout at UCLA since he arrived there from Orange Lutheran) was still available at this point of the first round. Mitchell is the third first-rounder from OLu since 2011. He follows No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole (who also went to UCLA after playing at the school) in 2011 and No. 15 Cole Winn in 2018. Cole also was selected in the first round coming out of high school (not near the top) but elected to go to college instead.

No. 26 Tyler Soderstrom (Turlock) Athletics
It also seemed like a surprise that Soderstrom didn’t go higher. We saw several mocks earlier in the day that had him at No. 13 going to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants also were the team that chose Tyler’s dad, Steve, at No. 6 overall in 1996. He had gone to Fresno State after also playing and pitching at Turlock. We’re sure the family is still thrilled by becoming only the 10th father-son first-round draft combination in history. The Athletics also seem thrilled that Tyler was still on the board. If Tyler is playing for the Stockton Ports anytime soon (the A’s high A level club), that’ll not only be good for the family to see him play but we’ll have to go as well.

No. 37 Alika Williams (Rancho Bernardo, San Diego) Tampa Bay
A power hitter supreme at Rancho Bernardo and an infield teammate of Spencer Torkelson’s at Arizona State, Williams’ getting selected as the final player of the night was huge for the Rancho Bernardo faithful. We count players in the compensation portion of the draft (before the second round) as first-rounders for the all-time state list so Alika’s selection made it No. 9 from his school. If that sounds like a lot, the school with second-most first-rounders in California is Lakewood with six. Again, counting those from compensation rounds (like Williams) the others from Rancho Bernardo would be Alex Jackson 2014, Allan Dykstra 2008, John Drennen 2005, Danny Putnam 2004, Cole Hamels 2002, Matt Wheatland 2000, Scott Heard 2000 and Jaime Jones 1995.

Mark Tennis is the editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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  1. Ron Nystrom
    Posted June 12, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    That makes three Turlock High grads picked in the first round of the history of the baseball draft. Do you know how that would stand in the list of all-time picks by school? At the least, I would think it would be the most in this area (I live in Turlock).

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted June 13, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      For the state, Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) is the clear leader with nine. For Sac-Joaquin Section, Turlock’s three believe is tied for most with Cordova (Rancho Cordova) and El Camino (Sacramento).

      • Ron Nystrom
        Posted June 13, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the information.

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