Why Detroit Tigers cut top prospects Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene from MLB camp

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Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
·4 min read
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LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers cut top hitting prospect Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene from big league spring training Saturday, sending them to the team's mini-camp in Lakeland for the remainder of March.

There are 39 players remaining in MLB camp.

"I learned that the makeup is real and the talent is real," manager AJ Hinch said Saturday. "The timeline for when they can advance is going to be based on how they perform. They learned a lot in their short stint here."

It's unlikely Torkelson and Greene will start during the final 10 games of camp, but they're going to enter as replacements. Hinch isn't sure how often he will put them on the bench because his primary focus is on major-league position battles.

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Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene (31) hits a single against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning March 17, 2021, at BayCare Ballpark.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene (31) hits a single against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning March 17, 2021, at BayCare Ballpark.

"I'll only bring them over when I have a full plan," Hinch said. "They both draw the night game in Toronto (on Monday), if that tells you anything."

Combined, Torkelson and Greene — projected as the Tigers' future at the plate — are 4-for-38 (.105) in camp.

Torkelson is 1-for-20 with three walks and 12 strikeouts. His lone single was slapped to left field March 13 against Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Michael Ynoa. Greene is 3-for-18 with five walks and seven strikeouts, with one double, one RBI and one stolen base.

Defensively, Torkelson has swapped between first base (seven games) and third base (six games), and Greene has played 13 games in right field and one in left field.

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"They're really good players," Hinch said. "I see why the organization is high on them; I see why the industry is really high on them. Practice behind the scenes has been really good. Obviously, we wish the performance on the field, you know, that they had a little bit more fun in the games.

"They both showed flashes of what they can do. Their makeup is plus across the board, and their futures are bright. They left the big-league camp side of things with some things to work on and an understanding of what they need to do to get from where they're at now to the big leagues."

Detroit Tigers infielder Spencer Torkelson watches the action Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.
Detroit Tigers infielder Spencer Torkelson watches the action Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida.

Torkelson and Greene are ranked as the No. 1 and No. 3 prospects in the farm system, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline. Torkelson is considered the third-best prospect in all of baseball. He was drafted No. 1 overall in 2020 from Arizona State.

Other prospects recently sent to mini-camp: right-handers Zack Hess and Gerson Moreno, catcher Dillon Dingler, infielders Kody Clemens, Daniel Pinero and Aderlin Rodriguez and outfielders Jacob Robson and Danny Woodrow.

Dingler is the Tigers' No. 7 prospect, followed by Clemens (No. 18) and Hess (No. 29).

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Opening Day starter?

The Tigers seem to have two candidates in the mix for the Opening Day start April 1 against the Cleveland Indians in Comerica Park: left-hander Matthew Boyd and right-hander Spencer Turnbull. For now, Turnbull is away from the team for COVID-19 protocol reasons.

"We'll see how the next couple of days go," Hinch said. "I know everybody's in a rush to making decisions, but Opening Day is still 12 days away. We'll have a starter that day. I'll name him eventually, but we'll see. I'll let you guys know when I pull the trigger."

It's probably a safe bet to eliminate Jose Urena, Julio Teheran, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize and Michael Fulmer from earning the first start of the season.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers cut Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene from MLB camp