You may want to learn how to spell T-O-R-K-E-L-S-O-N.
The next All-Star outfielder for the Tigers may be named GREENE, and that’s with an “E” at the end of his name, in case you want to order his jersey.
On Monday, the Detroit Tigers announced that two of baseball’s most anticipated prospects are packing their bags. Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson have both been promoted to Triple-A Toledo and will make their Mud Hens debuts Tuesday night against Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.
Torkelson is rated as the #2 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, and Greene is listed as #13 by that same list. The two are good friends and they’ve been hammering opposing pitchers at Double-A Erie with the Seawolves in recent weeks.
Torkelson and Greene represent the future of the Detroit franchise from the offensive side of things, and with young pitchers Casey Mize, Tyler Alexander, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning, all of whom have already made it to the big leagues, they form the next group of stars for the Tigers.
Torkelson will be a cleanup power hitter
Torkelson is a strong right-handed batter with a solid and powerful foundation at the plate. He’s hit 19 homers in 81 games at two levels this season, his first as a professional. After being selected as the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Torkelson received a $8,416,300 signing bonus, the highest in MLB draft history. He is projected to be a middle of the lineup force.
The Tigers are teaching Torkelson to play third base, but he can also fall back on his natural position as a first baseman or even be used as a designated hitter in the future. He smacked 53 home runs in three seasons for Arizona State, leading the NCAA with 25 as a freshman. He will celebrate his 22nd birthday later this month.
Greene has high average, doubles and homer power
The Tigers made Greene their top pick (and fifth overall) in the 2019 MLB Draft, selecting him directly out of high school in Florida. The outfielder has navigated the professional ranks quickly, and in 2021 he batted .298 with 16 doubles, five triples, 16 homers, 54 RBIs and a .905 OPS at Erie. Last week, Riley homered in four consecutive games, raising his profile even more, especially considering the injuries to outfielders at the major league level in the organization.
Greene is a left-handed batter with a beautiful swing and power to all fields. Some project him as a high-doubles, 20+ homer type at the big league level, with above average speed and range in the outfield. Like Torkelson, Greene was chosen to play in the MLB Futures Game at the 2021 All-Star Game, a showcase for future stars.
The future is still the future for young sluggers
While both Torkelson and Greene are now only one step away from the majors (and only 58 miles from Detroit from their new home in Toledo), dont’ expect them to be in the Tiger lineup this season. While it’s possible they could get a short summons to Detroit for a cup of coffee at the tail end of this season (both players are on the organization’s 60-man roster), it’s unlikely.
There’s really no benefit to the development of Greene and Torkelson to have them struggle in The Show during a season that has no playoff implications for Detroit. The Tigers, despite a recent hot stretch, are still a sub-.500 team and subjecting the two young hitters to the tenacious major league sliders and fastballs they would see, makes little sense.
But given their advancement to Toledo, and their performance in 2021, both Torkelson and the 20-year old Greene will get long looks next spring in Lakeland. Still, expect them both to start 2022 with the Mud Hens, honing their skills at the plate. But, it’s very possible that these two top prospects could be wearing the Old English D next summer.