Spencer Torkelson Leads Historic USA Baseball Quintet At Top Of Draft
This year’s draft is an outlier for any number of reasons, but the selections of Spencer Torkelson, Heston Kjerstad, Max Meyer, Asa Lacy, Austin Martin and Emerson Hancock with the first six picks made it historic. When the Marlins chose Meyer, it marked the biggest draft-opening run of alums of the previous summer’s Collegiate National Team.
There have been close calls before, most recently in the 2015 draft. The first three collegians off the board were Dansby Swanson (D-backs), Alex Bregman (Astros) and Dillon Tate (Rangers), but the Rockies took Florida high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers at pick No. 3, breaking up the run of talented college players that began with Swanson and Bregman.
Eight more 2014 CNT members were drafted in 2015’s first round, including Vanderbilt righthanders Carson Fulmer (White Sox, No. 8) and Walker Buehler (Dodgers, No. 24), Florida State outfielder D.J. Stewart (Orioles, No. 25), Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart (Tigers, No. 34) among others.
In total, the 2014 CNT produced 11 of the 36 first-round choices the following summer. That one-upped the 2013 group, which had 10 of its players taken in the next year’s first round. That group was led by a pair of North Carolina State teammates in lefthander Carlos Rodon (White Sox, No. 3) and shortstop Trea Turner (Padres. No. 13).
The 2013 CNT also featured future first-rounders in Indiana masher Kyle Schwarber (Cubs, No. 4), Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto (Mets, No. 10) and Cal State-Fullerton third baseman Matt Chapman (A's, No. 25).
The 2005 draft featured a close call, when a trio of 2004 CNT members were taken consecutively. Nebraska’s Alex Gordon (Royals, No. 2), Southern California catcher Jeff Clement (Mariners, No. 3) and Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals, No. 4) went immediately after the D-backs spent their first-round pick on Justin Upton, then a shortstop at Great Bridge High in Chesapeake, Va.
The 1996 draft featured collegians with the top four picks, but only Nos. 2 (Travis Lee, Twins) and 3 Braden Looper (Cardinals) had played for the CNT in 1995. No. 1 pick Kris Benson was not on the roster.
In 1985, the first three picks off the board—B.J. Surhoff, Will Clark and Bobby Witt—had each played for the USA the previous summer, but not for the Collegiate National Team. Instead, that trio went to the Olympics and won the silver medal.
So while the pro journeys of Torkelson, Kjerstad, Meyer, Lacy and Martin are just beginning, simply by being selected 1-2-3-4-5 they’ve already made history.