Top prospect Torkelson among Tigers’ NRIs

Detroit Tigers
The Tigers on Saturday announced their list of 15 Minor League players to receive non-roster invites to Major League camp for Spring Training. First workout for pitchers and catchers is scheduled for Feb. 17, with the first full-squad workout slated for Feb. 22.

While the list of invites includes a fair number of top prospects, it’s not as deep of a list as in some years. One reason on the prospect side is the probable delayed start of the Class A and Double-A seasons. Prospects below the Triple-A level who receive big league invites could well go through two Spring Trainings, a heavy workload before seasons begin. Another reason is the Minor League mini-camp the Tigers are holding for pitchers and catchers not on the 40-man roster to help them ramp up for the Triple-A season.

Here’s a look at the nine prospects invited to big league camp, along with MLB Pipeline’s most recent rankings (their Top 30 Tigers prospect list for 2021 isn’t out yet):

IF Spencer Torkelson (No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100): This was expected ever since the Tigers drafted Torkelson with the top overall pick last summer. He took part in Summer Camp with the Major Leaguers last July and spent the rest of the season at the alternate training site. How he fares could determine whether he opens the season at Class A Advanced West Michigan, as general manager Al Avila suggested last month, or gets a bump to Double-A Erie.

OF Riley Greene (No. 21 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100): Again, no surprise. Greene was the talk of Summer Camp last July with advanced hitting and a highlight catch over the fence at Comerica Park, then kept it up at the alternate training site in Toledo. Avila suggested last month that he could open the season at Double-A.

C Dillon Dingler (No. 8 on MLB Pipeline’s Tigers prospect list in 2020): The Tigers usually bring a slew of extra backstops to camp to help catch all the throwing sessions early on. Much like Dingler was invited to Summer Camp last July shortly after being drafted, the Tigers are giving him a chance to learn from the big leaguers again. Time will tell where the former second-round pick opens his Minor League season.

2B Kody Clemens (No. 18 on MLB Pipeline’s Tigers prospect list in 2020): Clemens’ first big league invite gives the Tigers a chance to see his progress and evaluate his future. He spent most of last summer playing in the independent Costellation Energy League, where he hit .233 with a .747 OPS against a wide range of experienced pitching. His last Minor League experience was at Double-A Erie to end 2019.

RHP Gerson Moreno: The hard-throwing reliever and former ranked prospect was a non-roster invite to Spring Training last year before baseball shut down for the COVID pandemic. He hasn’t pitched much since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018, but recently made a couple appearances in the Dominican Winter League.

IF Daniel Pinero: The Tigers like Pinero as a potential super-utility player, which is why he was invited to Spring Training a year ago. He was not part of Summer Camp. The University of Virginia product batted .235 with 15 home runs, 52 RBIs and a .744 OPS in 2019 between Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie.

OF Jacob Robson: The Windsor, Ont., native has been invited to the last couple big league camps, but was not part of Summer Camp last year. The speedy left-handed hitter played in 10 games in the Australian Baseball League this winter, batting .200 (6-for-30) with a home run and eight RBIs.

OF Danny Woodrow: Like Robson, Woodrow gets another invite after being left out of Summer Camp last year. He hit .274 with a .689 OPS for Triple-A Toledo in 2019.

And here’s a look at the six Minor League signings who received non-roster invites:

LHP Derek Holland: The 34-year-old will compete for a spot in Detroit’s bullpen after pitching in 12 games, five of them starts, for Pittsburgh last year. He went 1-3 with a 6.86 ERA, including five home runs in as many innings against the Tigers in an Aug. 8 start at PNC Park.

LHP Ian Krol: Six years after Krol last pitched for the Tigers, the lefty reliever returns in a comeback attempt, hoping for his first Major League appearance since 2018. The 29-year-old pitched last year in the independent City of Champions Cup in the Chicago area, allowing one run on eight hits in 19 1/3 innings with three walks and 31 strikeouts.

RHP Erasmo Ramírez: The 30-year-old will compete for a bullpen spot after making six appearances in relief for the Mets last year, allowing one run on eight hits over 14 1/3 innings with four walks and nine strikeouts.

C Dustin Garneau: The veteran backup catcher will compete for a spot behind Wilson Ramos on the Tigers’ roster after backing up Martín Maldonado last year in Houston. The 33-year-old hit .158 (6-for-38) with a .562 OPS for the Astros, and owns a .202 average and .626 OPS in 140 career big league games.

C Eric Haase: The Dearborn, Mich., native played in seven games for his hometown team last year, batting 3-for-17 with two RBIs down the stretch.

IF Aderlin Rodriguez: The 29-year-old is expected to serve as organizational depth at first base after spending last year with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, batting .218 with six homers, 25 RBIs and a .642 OPS in 59 games.

The Tigers also announced a dozen invites to their Minor League mini-camp later this month at Tigertown:

C Brady Policelli
C Cooper Johnson
RHP Nolan Blackwood
RHP Drew Carlton
RHP Ethan DeCaster
RHP Jason Foley
RHP Wladimir Pinto
RHP David McKay
RHP Andrew Moore
RHP Logan Shore
LHP Miguel Del Pozo
LHP Robbie Ross

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