ASU Baseball: How Hunter Bishop has followed Spencer Torkelson’s footsteps

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Joey Hooft
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Joey Hooft /

Through 15 games, the production of ASU baseball’s Hunter Bishop has shaded Spencer Torkelson’s hitting spree from last season.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, Hunter Bishop was up to the plate in a 1-1 count against his former Brewster Whitecaps teammate, Conor Grammes.

The Xavier righty is known for his fastball – a pitch that could top out at 98 miles per hour.

With that in mind, Bishop took his his old Cape League companion yard on the very next pitch.

His three-run home run to the opposite field gave ASU its first lead of the game at 3-1. The bomb was Bishop’s eighth in a season that was only 15 games old.

The home run matched Bishop’s total through 15 games with a total from a teammate who ended up having one of the greatest freshman seasons in ASU history – Spencer Torkelson.

How last season ended for Torkelson is well documented. The Sun Devils’ slugger finished the year leading the country in home runs with 25 while recording a .320/.440/.743 slash line.

The 2019 season is young. But one could safely wonder at this point if Bishop could replicate, if not top, Torkelson’s historic freshman campaign a year ago.

“The best part about that is just seeing a guy that’s had some ups and downs, certainly with some of the personal things that has happened in his life, to be able to go out and focus on something else for three and a half hours,” ASU head coach Tracy Smith said.

There had always been flashes of power and production from Bishop. But those bursts seemed to be short-lived and were often followed up by a stretch of poor play.

Curveballs were Bishop’s kryptonite. Late in counts, ASU’s center fielder often chased the breaking ball for strikeouts.

And even worse for him, Bishop was consistently stuck in his own head, seemingly unable to reconcile with a bad at-bat or cold streak of plate appearances.

“I’ve always tried to go get the ball and jump at it because I was really excited,” Bishop said.

But that’s all changed this season.

“That’s probably the biggest jump I’ve made hitting, by staying on my backside and staying more calm at the plate,” Bishop said. “It’s no secret that when I hit it, it goes pretty far.”

The junior center fielder sports a .948 slugging percentage through 15 games and has homered in four of his last five contests.

Yes, there is plenty of time left in the season for Bishop to see a change that could derail his hot start.

But now as a junior, his experience has translated into added maturity. And it’s that greater sense of maturity that has resulted in climbing double, home run and RBI totals.

More. ASU Baseball: Sun Devils sweep Xavier, improve to 15-0. light

There’s a reason why ranked him as the No.44 college prospect for the 2019 MLB Draft.

“This isn’t a fluke,” Smith said. “This is who he is.”

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.