Greene’s 3 hits lift skipper to milestone win

Detroit Tigers

On a night his manager will never forget, Riley Greene appears to have kicked his season into gear.

MLB’s No. 17 prospect collected a career-high three hits, scored twice and stole a base to help lead Double-A Erie past visiting Akron, 4-0, on Wednesday night. The victory gave SeaWolves skipper Arnie Beyeler his 1,000th Minor League win while ending the RubberDucks’ six-game winning streak to begin the season.

“It means I’m old, I guess,” Beyeler said about his managerial longevity. “I didn’t think that much of it or even remember I was nearing that number. It’s been [three years] since I last managed in the Minors and I knew I was getting close [in 2018] when I was with [Triple-A] New Orleans, but I really hadn’t thought about it. I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of good players and coaches who have all helped me to a great career. I can’t complain about that.”

Greene lit the match for Erie’s offense, singling three times to right an uneven start to his second professional season. The 20-year-old opened the year with consecutive multi-hit games but had gone 2-for-18 since. He opened the bottom of the first inning by beating out an infield single to shortstop and came around to score the game’s first run on Josh Lester’s single to right. After grounding out in his second at-bat, Greene lined a single to center and trotted home on Tigers No. 24 prospect Ryan Kreidler’s two-run homer in the fifth before beating the shift with a two-out single to right in the seventh. He followed with his first stolen base of the season but was stranded after a pair of strikeouts.

Greene’s first three-hit game brought his slash line up to .281/.385/.438 with seven RBIs, six runs and five walks in seven games.

“Just trying to be on time,” he said. “Last night [an 0-for-4, two-strikeout effort] was not good whatsoever. I felt like I was getting myself out, so tonight I tried to get myself into a good hitting position and put my ‘A’ swing on every pitch. I was able to do that and get some hard-hit balls.”

“Riley is a great kid. He really is,” Beyeler added. “He’s full of life and he just plays free and easy. He doesn’t get too high or too low and is a lot of fun to watch. He brings so much to the table, hits the ball hard and is always trying to get better. He’s got a good future ahead of him and it will be really fun to watch him develop. Riley is still so young but even so, he’s one of those kids that is always trying to learn more every day out there.”

Selected fifth overall in the 2019 Draft, Greene put together a solid .271/.347/.403 line with 16 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs and 22 walks in 57 games across three Minor League levels. A five-tool talent, the Florida native has a fan in Beyeler, who has seen his share of stars during his 29 seasons in pro ball.

“It’s great to be back out there playing again,” Greene said. “It’s nice to be able to get a routine going and compete in games that matter rather than Spring Training or practice games. The adrenaline is back with the fans being there. … It’s just a different vibe. I’m really excited for the rest of the season.”

Erie starter Elvin Rodriguez and two relievers made sure Beyeler ended the night with a win. The right-hander struck out eight over five perfect innings before turning things over to the bullpen.

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