Detroit Tigers prospects Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene shine in 2021 Futures Game

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Detroit Tigers top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene reached their biggest stage yet Sunday at Coors Field in Denver. They were playing in the 2021 All-Star Futures Game, hitting back-to-back in the American League's batting order.

Sounds familiar.

Torkelson and Greene have been tearing up Double-A Erie together since June 13, when Torkelson — the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 — moved up from High-A West Michigan. They became close friends last year in summer camp, at the alternate training site and in the instructional league. In February and March, they journeyed through MLB spring training and impressed manager AJ Hinch.

These prospects are the future of the Tigers.

Getting to the Futures Game together was the latest step in their development. Torkelson, 21, and Greene, 20, started at third base and center field, respectively, and they made sure their names were remembered. The AL lost, 8-2, to the National League in the seven-inning matchup, finishing with five hits and five walks.

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Third baseman Spencer Torkelson fields the ball in the first inning of the MLB All Star Futures Game at Coors Field in Denver, Sunday, July 11, 2021.
Third baseman Spencer Torkelson fields the ball in the first inning of the MLB All Star Futures Game at Coors Field in Denver, Sunday, July 11, 2021.

Torkelson went 1-for-2 with a single and walk; Greene finished 2-for-3 with two singles. They were the only two members of the AL squad to play the entire game, taking their final at-bats in the seventh inning. Torkelson is the Tigers' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Drafted No. 5 overall in 2019, Greene is ranked No. 2.

Facing Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Andre Jackson, Greene stepped into the batter's box with two outs in the second inning. He smacked a third-pitch 94 mph fastball back up the middle into center field. The first two pitches he saw were changeups. Jackson is the Dodgers' No. 27 prospect.

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Greene singled with one out in the seventh inning against left-hander Jake Eder, the Miami Marlins' No. 22 prospect. Torkelson clashed with lefty Ethan Small — the No. 4 prospect for the Milwaukee Brewers — and singled to left field. They both scored on Boston Red Sox prospect Jeter Downs' double to cut the AL's deficit to six runs.

The singles from Torkelson and Greene accounted for three of the AL's five hits.

For the third inning, Greene moved from center field to left field. He made a leaping catch — displaying his range and strong first step — for the second out. But the NL took a 5-0 lead after a four-run third inning. In the fourth, Greene caught a fly ball.

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Torkelson first made his presence felt with his glove. He has started 28 games at third base and 21 games at first base between High A and Double A this season. For the Futures Game, he was penciled in as the team's third baseman.

A hard chopper from San Diego Padres catcher Luis Campusano screamed toward Torkelson with two outs in the first inning. He handled the tough hop in the best way possible by putting his body in front of the ball, smothering it and throwing cleanly to first base. His smooth play ended the inning.

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Torkelson notched another ground-ball out in the fourth inning. His first at-bat followed Greene's single in the second inning. He watched three pitches for a 2-1 count, then swung at a 95 mph fastball and grounded into an inning-ending force out to the shortstop.

Both players matched themselves against Washington Nationals righty Cade Cavalli in the fifth inning. He is the No. 1 prospect in the Nationals' farm system. Greene grounded out on a third-pitch 100 mph fastball. Torkelson worked a walk on five straight fastballs. Some of the fastballs were temping, so the at-bat showed Torkelson's plate discipline.

In the sixth, Torkelson caught a line drive from New York Mets infielder Brett Baty. He crouched to the ground snagging the ball just before it skipped off the dirt and into left field. It was the second top-notch play from Torkelson at third base.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene shine in Futures Game