Tigers minor-league report: Spencer Torkelson is heating up for Whitecaps

Detroit News

How various Tigers farmhands are faring as the minor-league season pushes toward Memorial Day weekend:

Triple-A Toledo

Who’s hot …

Victor Reyes, OF: Not the most shocking news, the reality a man who has played in the big leagues the past three seasons would be finding Triple-A pitching delectable. Reyes is batting .400 in a dozen games since being returned to Toledo. He’ll be seeing Detroit again in 2021, more than likely, given MLB’s injury realities, not to mention JaCoby Jones’ hitting issues.

Derek Hill, OF: Here’s the more likely potential replacement for Jones, should his batting ills continue: Hill has been warming up nicely, with seven hits in his last four games. He, as Tigers followers will remember, was a first-round draft pick in 2014.

Rony Garcia, RH starter: Yes, absolutely, he needs to throw more strikes: eight walks in 14⅔ innings won’t earn a return ticket to Detroit. But those 18 strikeouts tell you a bit about Garcia’s stuff, which is why Garcia was a Tigers Rule 5 pick in 2020.

And who’s not …

Ian Krol, LH reliever: Nothing fatal here, but Krol has a 7.36 ERA, 1.91 WHIP and .310 opposing batting average in five games.

Double-A Erie

Who’s hot …

Kerry Carpenter, OF: He was a 19th-rounder from Virginia Tech in 2019 when the Tigers took a chance. He’s a 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, bats left-handed — and he has four homers for the SeaWolves, with a .333 batting average and .964 OPS.

Jacob Robson, OF: Yes, nothing like a steady dose of Double A pitching when you’ve already shown you can play at Triple A. That’s life on the farm — organizational numbers can create their share of injustice — but Robson won’t be sticking long in Erie. Here’s what he’s done in 18 games for the SeaWolves: .424 batting average, two homers, .531 on-base percentage, and .712 slugging for a 1.243 OPS. Robson is from Ontario, played at Mississippi State, and was an eighth-round choice by the Tigers in 2016.

More: Riley Greene shows talent, growing pains in Double-A assignment

And who’s not …

Billy Lescher, RH reliever: Ghastly five-game spring thus far for Lescher: 4⅓ innings, 11 hits, five walks, albeit with seven strikeouts. What shakes out is an 18.69 ERA and 3.23 WHIP.

Single-A West Michigan

Who’s hot …

Reynaldo Rivera, DH: Hey, it’s (supposedly) never too late: Rivera has four homers for the Whitecaps during the past week, the latest coming Sunday when he also cracked a double. He was a second-round Tigers pick in 2017, is 6-6, 230, swings left-handed, and to date has been something of a major draft-day mistake. But that burst this week and a .954 OPS will at least allow the Tigers to carry on with a 23-year-old whose time is growing short.

Bryant Packard, OF: Five of his 13 hits have gone for either home runs (three) or doubles (two), which is an easy way to push your OPS to .862. Packard’s a slasher, a guy who swings the bat (left-handed) and can bust up a game. He was a fifth-round pick by the Tigers in 2019 from East Carolina.

Spencer Torkelson, 3B: Heating up, not that this news will stun the greater baseball world: 7-for-18 in his last six games, with a home run, double, four walks and one strikeout. For those just tuning into North American baseball, Torkelson was last year’s first overall draft pick out of Arizona State.

And who’s not …

Parker Meadows, OF: This is getting close to perilous for another of the Tigers’ star-crossed second-round picks. Meadows is having a miserable May: .136 batting average, .508 OPS, with 26 strikeouts in 17 games. One big ouch.

Single-A Lakeland

Who’s hot …

Gage Workman, SS: Big week for a big (6-foot-3 switch-hitter) who Sunday had a triple and a home run after Friday hitting his first home for the Flying Tigers. He’s now batting .288 (.911 OPS) and perhaps is as important of a prospect as there is in the entire Tigers’ system. Workman is, well, working out fine, defensively, after moving to short from his old third-base post at Arizona State, which is the school from which the Tigers got him in last year’s fourth round of the MLB Draft.

Jimmy Kerr, OF: Nice week, as well, for Kerr, who hit two home runs Sunday and bumped his numbers to .298 (batting average) and .893 (OPS). Kerr played at the University of Michigan, was a 33rd-round pick by the Tigers in 2019, and bats left-handed.

Eric De La Rosa, OF: Another of the Flying Tigers who seems to enjoy that heating-up Florida climate. De La Rosa, a seventh-rounder (2018) from Grossman Junior College in California, is a 6-3, 186-pound right-handed masher who’s batting .300 with two homers and an .886 OPS.

And who’s not …

Jose De La Cruz, OF: Those tracking the Flying Tigers’ fortunes would expect De La Cruz to be migrating across TigerTown’s complex, rejoining the advanced spring-training kids ahead of Gulf Coast League rookie play that begins in June. De La Cruz, who is 19, has been having frightening issues at the plate, striking out 34 times in 16 games.

Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.

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