Detroit Tigers feature top prospects in intrasquad game in Lakeland: What we saw

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
 
| Detroit Free Press

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LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers are at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium for an intrasquad game at noon Saturday to put the franchise’s top prospects on display.

Tigers insider Evan Petzold is at Tiger Town for the scrimmage, which will be five innings. Follow along below for his live observations as the game progresses:

More from Lakeland:

Tigers top prospects in instructional league: Recap of Friday’s observations

What Spencer Torkelson showed in Tigers instructional league game

How Tigers’ Riley Greene found his swing — and his swagger — in Toledo

Observations

Pregame

– Grage Workman, who isn’t in the starting lineup for today’s scrimmage, received high praise from his teammates and coaches at shortstop. During drills, he showed solid range and bare-handed a slow roller on the run with ease.

– Although Colt Keith (a fifth-round pick in 2020 out of high school) is a few years away from making the big leagues, he looks the part of a third baseman. As a right-handed pitcher, his fastball can hit the mid-90s. But the Tigers are clearly grooming him as a third base option if they desire to send Spencer Torkelson to first base once he makes the majors.

– Speaking of Torkelson, he took reps at third base. In drills, he bobbled the first ball that went to him; coaches responded, “That’s all right, that’s all right.” Of course, not all of his fielding attempts went like this. But it’s clear the Torkelson to third base trend is still a work in progress. That’s what vice president of player development Dave Littlefield hinted at earlier this week. Torkelson needs live, in-game action at third. His arm strength isn’t anything to gush about, and he seems timid at times. Confidence comes with time, and it will come together for Torkelson. If not, he will just move back to first base. Simple as that.

– Shortstop Trei Cruz’s best fielding quality is his quick transfer time. He is much faster than any other infielder at the instructional league. Where some might get sloppy with an increased transfer speed, Cruz stays on target. His footwork and arm strength are excellent, as well. The only thing that can get in the way of his ascension to the majors: his bat.

First inning

TOP: Even if Torkelson isn’t as advanced as he would like to be at third base, there’s no doubt he has pop in his bat. Wenceel Perez and Trei Cruz were each retired to start the game, but Torkelson kept the inning alive with a screaming line drive to third base. He hit the ball so hard that Keith couldn’t handle it, allowing Torkelson to reach. Daniel Cabrera grounded out to first base for the third out. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 0

BOTTOM: Riley Greene showed his patience at the plate against right-hander Wilkel Hernandez. As Hernandez painted the corners, Greene stayed content and waited for his pitch. Eventually, he worked deep enough into the count that Hernandez walked him. Kingston Liniak, Bryan Packard and Andre Lipcius were the other three batters; none of them reached base. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 0

Second inning

TOP: Right-hander Alex Lange completed 1⅔ of his expected two innings because of a pitch-count limit. He kept his opponent scoreless, giving up one hit and one walk with one strikeout. The Tigers added Lange to the alternate training site in Toledo on Sept. 3, meaning his MLB debut isn’t too far away. On Saturday, he looked composed. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 0

BOTTOM: Hernandez was supposed to get two innings, but he didn’t go back out for the second. He was replaced by 25-year-old righty Will Vest. He gave up a leadoff double to Sam McMillen, followed by a walk to Ryan Kreidler. With two runners on for Keith, he hit a slow roller down the third-base line. His hustle was impressive, and from the press box, he beat the throw from Alvaro Gonzalez. But his teammates called him out. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 0

Third inning

TOP: Right-hander Ethan DeCaster tossed a clean third inning, getting two comebackers and a groundout to second base. The 25-year-old did a nice job of staying composed when he got deep into counts. After pitching in Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, he could be ready for a call-up in 2021. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 0

BOTTOM: Greene showed his strength and speed with a triple against righty Paul Richan. Center fielder Parker Meadows made his best effort to rob him of extra bases, but he came up short on a diving play. That allowed Greene to crank into third base standing up. Earlier this week, Greene said he has never felt better about his swing and confidence. He scored on an infield single from Lipcius. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 1

Fourth inning

TOP: After Cesar Calderon replaced Cruz, the Tigers bumped back the order to give Calderon a chance to get an extra at-bat. He struck out swinging. The next batter, Torkelson, drew a walk, but Cabrera bounced into an inning-ending double play. To this point in camp, Torkelson’s eye for the strike zone has proven to be quite advanced. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 1

BOTTOM: For the second day in a row, Perez showed his weakness at second base. He typically plays shortstop. Perez got a pop fly at second, called off his teammates and dropped the ball. He didn’t squeeze his glove. For the team’s No. 16 prospect to have a tough time making plays such as a simple pop fly or weak grounder at age 20 — not a good sign. SCORE: Team Cat 0, Team Graham 1

Fifth inning

TOP: The Tigers got their first in-game homer in camp from Eliezer Alfonzo. He entered the game as a replacement for Eduardo Valencia — and was slotted into the cleanup spot because it was the final frame — and crushed a home run to right field against Rodolfo Fajardo. Meadows followed suit with a single to right field, but he was thrown out trying to extend his hit into a double. SCORE: Team Cat 1, Team Graham 1

BOTTOM: Did not bat. FINAL SCORE: Team Cat 1, Team Graham 1

Team Cat starters

1. 2B Wenceel Perez

2. SS Trei Cruz

3. DH Spencer Torkelson

4. LF Daniel Cabrera

5. CF Parker Meadows

6. RF Jose De La Cruz

7. 1B Kerry Carpenter

8. 3B Alvaro Gonzalez

9. C Eduardo Valencia

Pitchers: RHP Wilkel Hernandez (two innings), RHP Will Vest (one inning), RHP Paul Richan (one inning), LHP Rodolfo Fajardo (one inning).

Team Graham starters

1. CF Kingston Liniak

2. RF Riley Greene

3. 1B Bryant Packard

4. 2B Andre Lipcius

5. C Sam McMillan

6. DH Ryan Kreidler

7. 3B Colt Keith 

8. LF Daniel Pinero

9. SS Carlos Irigoyen

Pitchers: RHP Alex Lange (two innings), RHP Ethan DeCaster (one inning), RHP Brendan White (one inning), RHP Joseph Salazar (one inning).

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

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