Detroit Tigers’ Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene to AFL

The Detroit Tigers are sending a talented group of young players to the Arizona Fall League.

This year, the Tigers will have at least seven players, led by top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, who could land on the team’s opening day 2022 roster after spring training.

Others of the Tigers competing for the Salt River Rafters include shortstop Ryan Kreidler and right-handed Chavez Fernandez, Wilmer Flores, Zack Hess and Garrett Hill. The AFL season begins on October 13th and ends with the AFL Championship Game on November 20th.

Torkelson and Greene are ranked # 1 and # 2 in the Tigers, respectively, according to the MLB Pipeline. The duo, nicknamed “Tork and Greene”, represented the Tigers in the All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field in July.

Kreidler ranks 10th among the top perspectives.

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Torkelson, 22, made the leap from High-A West Michigan to Triple-A Toledo this season.

The first baseman finished with a .267 batting average, 30 home runs, 91 RBIs, 77 walks and 114 strikeouts over 121 games between the Whitecaps (31 games), SeaWolves (50 games) and Mud Hens (40 games). For Triple-A Toledo, Torkelson reached .238 with 11 home runs, 27 RBIs, 23 walks and 36 strikeouts.

After waiting in Double-A Erie, Greene, 21, was promoted with Torkelson on August 16. He reached 0.301 with eight triples, 24 home runs, 84 RBIs, 63 walks and 153 strikeouts in 124 games for the SeaWolves (84 games) and Mud Hens (40 games).

At Triple A level, Greene shone with a .308 batting average, eight homers, 30 RBIs, 22 walks and 51 strikeouts. He seems to be on track to add it to the opening day list, possibly as a midfielder if he succeeds in spring training.

The Tigers designed Torkelson to be # 1 overall in 2020 after choosing Greene as # 5 overall in 2019.

Kreidler, 23, had the biggest breakout season of any prospect in the system. He hit .270 with 22 homers, 58 RBIs, 56 walks and 158 strikeouts in 129 games. He did so well in Erie that he was included in Triple A promotions along with Torkelson and Greene.

For the Mud Hens, Kreidler impressed with a .304 batting average, seven home runs, 22 RBIs, 24 walks and 39 strikeouts in 41 games as well as an above-average defense as a shortstop. The Tigers designed it in the fourth round of UCLA in 2019.

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SeaWolves shortstop Ryan Kreidler

Fernander, 24, posted a 3.68 ERA, 26 walks and 56 strikeouts over 58⅔ innings in 33 games (three starts) between High-A West Michigan (11 games) and Double-A Erie (22 games).

Flores, 20, also posted a 3.68 ERA, but he finished with 24 walks and 90 strikeouts over 66 innings in 14 games (13 starts) in the Florida Complex League (3 games) and Low-A Lakeland (11 games).

The Tigers picked Hess up from LSU in the seventh round of the 2019 design. The 24-year-old advanced to Erie for two games and three scoreless innings, but not before making 43 appearances for West Michigan – which spanned 49 innings.

He combined for a 3.42 ERA, 35 walks and 69 strikeouts over 52⅔ innings from the bullpen.

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(From left) Tigers pitchers Joey Wentz, Alex Lange and Zack Hess speak during their practice session at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida on Saturday, February 20, 2021.

Hill, 25, stood out as the starter for the Whitecaps (13 games) and the SeaWolves (4 games) with 2.72 ERA, 28 walks and 99 strikeouts in 75⅔ innings. He didn’t miss a single shot in his promotion and ended the year with a 3.40 ERA in Double-A.

In Arizona Fall League games, MLB is testing possible rule changes such as shift limitation, the automatic strike zone, pitch timers, and larger bases.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more about the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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