Detroit Tigers’ top prospects in instructional league: Live observations

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
| Detroit Free Press

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LAKELAND, Florida —The Detroit Tigers face the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1 p.m. today in instructional league play in Lakeland, Florida, in a matchup of the franchise’s top prospects. 

Tigers insider Evan Petzold is at Tiger Town for today’s game. Follow along below for his live observations as the game progresses: 


First inning

TOP: Right-hander Elvin Rodriguez tossed the first inning for the Tigers. He gave up a leadoff double but bounced back to retire the next three in order. He had one strikeout. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 0

BOTTOM: In Spencer Torkelson’s first at-bat, with two outs, he lined a two-strike fastball into the left-field corner. Before the 2020 draft’s No. 1 overall pick reached base, Parker Meadows and Riley Greene were retired. Due to a pitch-count limit, the inning was called after Torkelson’s double. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 0

Second inning

TOP: Right-hander Keider Montero gave up an early infield single but didn’t allow any damage. His fastball got up to 95 mph. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 0

BOTTOM: Daniel Cabrera and Gage Workman were each sent down to start the inning, but Andre Lipcius, the team’s No. 28 prospect, doubled to the right-field wall. He was followed by Ryan Kreidler, who singled to put runners on the corners. Wenceel Perez wasn’t able to extend the inning, however, leaving the Tigers without a run. (In 2019, Perez hit .233 with three homers and 30 RBIs for Single-A West Michigan.) SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 0

Third inning

TOP: The Pirates scored first with a leadoff homer to right-center field allowed by right-hander Gio Arriera (wind is blowing toward right). The top of the third inning was called with just one out, as Arriera gave up a walk and single with one out. His only out came on a line-drive comebacker to the mound. While his fastball wasn’t too shabby, he struggled with off-speed command. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 1

BOTTOM: Daniel Pinero drew a walk to start the frame before Eliezer Alfonzo grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice for the first out. Meadows, the leadoff hitter, dribbled a weak grounder down the first-base line, ending in a 1-6 double play. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 1

Fourth inning

TOP: Right-hander Angel De Jesus, who the Tigers signed in 2016, reached back to hit the mid-90s with his fastball. He got strikeouts with his 82 mph slider and 94 mph fastball. Sandwiched between was an infield pop out to Workman. The shortstop called off his teammates and made the catch near the mound. De Jesus, 23, had a 1.85 ERA in nine relief appearances and 24⅓ innings for Single-A in 2019. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 1

BOTTOM: Greene and Torkelson went down with a flyout to left field and a strikeout looking, respectively, so it would’ve been easy for Cabrera to lack focus without runners on. But despite a weak grounder to second base, he hustled. The Pirates’ second baseman, realizing he had to throw to first base much quicker than expected, tossed the ball over his head for an error. (That hustle is nice to see from Cabrera, a 2020 draft pick who wasn’t at the alternate training site in Toledo this year.) Workman left him stranded, striking out on a high fastball. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 1

Fifth inning

TOP: If anything is certain, it’s that this wasn’t Perez’s best inning. Not even close. The second baseman — ranked as the Tigers’ No. 16 prospect — made two errors to put left-hander Jared Tobey in a jam. His first error was a bit more understandable, but both plays should have been outs. Tobey induced a grounder up the middle, just under his toes, and Perez ranged behind second base to field the ball, but he threw wide left of Pinero. After two outs, a routine grounder went Perez’s way. This time, he chucked the ball past his first baseman’s feet. Tobey’s fastball sat between 92-93 mph, and his breaking pitches produced two strikeouts. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 1

BOTTOM: Lipcius and Perez both drew walks (with a flyout to right field from Kreidler in between) but weren’t able to score. However, the inning ended with only two outs because of Pinero’s battle at the plate. He got down two strikes — two line drives down the left-field line — before running the count full. Eventually, he popped out just beyond the infield dirt near second base. The Tigers picked Pinero in the ninth round of the 2016 draft. He played 88 games in Double-A Erie in 2019, as well as 28 in Triple-A Toledo. He had a combined .235 batting average with 15 homers and 52 RBIs. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 1

Sixth inning

TOP: The Tigers claimed right-hander Ruben Garcia off waivers in December 2019 because he throws hard and excelled through the Rookie, Low-A and Single-A levels with the Baltimore Orioles. His arm strength was confirmed, as he touched 98 mph with his fastball but regularly was between 95-97 mph. But his lack of command was a problem. He walked two batters, allowed a stolen base and then balked. With two runners in scoring position, the Pirates scored on a grounder to second base. The inning ended after two outs, the final being a 98 mph strikeout swinging. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 2

BOTTOM: With an entire set of new players entering in the sixth inning (the second squad), the Tigers went down in order. Catcher Eduard Valencia grounded out to shortstop, followed by back-to-back strikeouts of right fielder Kerry Carpenter and center fielder Jose De La Cruz. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 2

Seventh inning

TOP: Looks like right-hander Jason Foley knows how to bring the heat, too. His second of two strikeouts ended on a 99 mph fastball — all the batter could do was watch it zoom into Valencia’s glove. His fastball averaged about 97 mph. His first strikeout, however, came on an 85 mph pitch in the dirt. For the final out of his perfect inning, he got a sharp groundout to first base. This is important: No. 18 prospect Bryant Packard, an outfielder, made the impressive play. Not once has the fifth-round pick from 2019 played first base in his college and professional career — until now. That could be a sign of things to come. SCORE: Tigers 0, Pirates 2

BOTTOM: Just as the Tigers were beginning to roll on offense, the inning was shut down with one out because of a pitch-count limit — expect a lot more of that this fall. Third baseman Colt Keith, a fifth-round selection in the 2020 draft out of high school, opened the frame with a walk. One out later, Carlos Irigoyen and Kody Clemens delieverd consecutive singles. Clemens’ hit drove in Keith to score the Tigers’ first run. Keith is the team’s No. 21 prospect as a 19-year-old. SCORE: Tigers 1, Pirates 2

Tigers’ starters

1. RF Parker Meadows

2. CF Riley Greene

3. 3B Spencer Torkelson

4. LF Daniel Cabrera

5. SS Gage Workman

6. DH Andre Lipcius

7. DH Ryan Kreidler

8. 2B Wenceel Perez

9. 1B Daniel Pinero

10. C Eliezer Alfonzo

Tigers’ bench

1. RF Kerry Carpenter

2. CF Jose De La Cruz

3. 3B Colt Keith

4. LF Kingston Liniak

5. SS Carlos Irigoyen

6. DH Kody Clemens

7. DH Trei Cruz

8. 2B Alvaro Gonzalez

9. 1B Bryant Packard

10. C Eduardo Valencia

Pitchers (in order):

RHP Elvin Rodriguez

RHP Keider Montero

RHP Gio Arriera

RHP Angel De Jesus

LHP Jared Tobey

RHP Ruben Garcia

RHP Jason Foley

LHP Max Green

LHP Cleiverth Perez

Note: bench players took over in sixth inning in Wednesday’s game. 

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. 

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