Detroit Tigers pitching prospects overshadow Riley Greene’s huge night for Double-A Erie

Detroit Free Press

ERIE, Pa. — Almost perfect.

The Detroit Tigers’ Double-A farm team, the Erie SeaWolves, was almost perfect on Wednesday night — at least through six innings.

Two Erie pitchers combined for a perfect start: 18 up, 18 down.

Riley Greene, one of the most important prospects in the Tigers’ system, was almost perfect, going 3-for-4 with two runs and a stolen base.

Ryan Kreidler, a fine-looking shortstop, was perfectly powerful, cranking a home run — his fifth extra-base hit in eight games.

And Erie manager Arnie Beyeler got, well, a perfect ending to the night after the SeaWolves’ 4-0 win over the Akron RubberDucks, as the SeaWolves celebrated the 1,000th win of his career.

“I was joking with the guys,” Beyeler said. “That just means, I’m old, and I’ve been around too long.”

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So what does this mean for the Tigers rebuild?

Actually, a whole bunch. Because this game revealed something about several players.

Let’s start with the pitchers.

Elvin Rodriguez, a 23-year-old right hander, started the game for Erie. He completely dominated, pitching five perfect innings — 15 up, 15 down — with eight strikeouts.

Now, I know what you are thinking: Who the heck is Elvin Rodriguez?

Actually, that’s an interesting side story. Rodriguez (along with Grayson Long) was a “Player To Be Named Later in the 2017 Justin Upton trade with the Angels.

In two starts this season, Rodriguez has pitched nine scoreless innings, giving up just two hits while recording 14 strikeouts with one walk. During the game, as he baffled the previously undefeated RubberDucks, a team that features a couple of Cleveland’s top prospects, I sat there thinking: When the heck is this guy gonna get called up to Toledo?

“He’s a young guy that’s got a really live fastball and can throw his breaking balls for strikes,” Beyeler said. “Now he’s learning how to throw that change-up a little bit, too. So he’s worked really hard. And I think he’s got a nice future ahead of him.”

“Is this a legit guy who can move up?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” Beyeler said. “I mean he’s young. He’s gotta learn. He’s got to get some experience, but that’s what they look like.”

Billy Lescher came for the sixth, and he kept the perfection intact for another inning — 18 up, 18 down.

And Greene was out in center field, looking at the scoreboard and wondering if he was going to play in a perfect game.

“Oh, it was fun,” Greene said. “I mean, man, I kept looking up at the scoreboard and I kept seeing zeroes. And I was like, oh, I can’t say anything. I’m not gonna say anything. I’m just gonna keep it in my head.”

Not that he’s superstitious or anything.

“Yeah, I mean, the pitchers did really well, tonight,” Greene said.

Brad Bass, a 2017 seventh-rounder out of Notre Dame, was the third pitcher used by the SeaWolves. He gave up a hit to Tyler Freeman, Cleveland’s No. 2 prospect, breaking up the no-hitter.

“I heard that a fan of ours said something,” Greene said, smiling. “And I think the next inning, they got a hit. So I mean, it’s real. I’m telling you, if you speak it into existence, it’s real.”

You know what else is real?

Greene’s drive.

After going hitless Tuesday, Greene hit the batting cage early Wednesday, which says all you need to know about how he handles a momentary struggle.

“I got in the cage pretty early and did some machine work,” Greene said. “Just trying to take it day by day. I mean, you’re gonna have rough days out there. So I just take it day by day. It was fun. A couple hits. And the confidence is back up. So ready for the next couple of games.”

You know what else is real?

Kreidler’s talent.

He had a diving catch in the ninth inning — a play that would be on ESPN if he were playing in the majors.

“He’s one of the best shortstops that I’ve played with,” Greene said.

More: Watching the Detroit Tigers with Riley Greene’s dad unearths great stories on top prospect

Greene and Kreidler are roommates.

“Who is your favorite roommate?” I asked Greene. “Kreidler or Jake Rogers and Spencer Torkelson?”

Greene broke into a smile.

“I’m not answering that,” he said.

Perfect answer.

Just perfect.

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.

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