It wasn’t quite a caravan.
But it was close.
Spencer Torkelson and Ryan Kreidler loaded some of their stuff into Riley Greene’s truck before they all drove from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Toledo, Ohio, leaving about 15 minutes apart.
“Riley has a big truck,” Torkelson said. “So he is kind of like the U-Haul for the boys.”
“Literally one more step to go,” Greene said. “It didn’t really hit me at first but I was sitting on the couch in the apartment, and I was like, ‘Wow, we’re one more step closer to the big leagues.’
“And that gets me excited.”
Did you notice how he said, “we’re” one step closer?
That only seems fitting because Torkelson and Greene, two star Tigers prospects, have been locked together for a while, both in friendship and now on their journey.
“This makes you hungrier,” Torkelson said. “You can kind of like taste it that much more and you want to work that much harder and compete that much more, day in and day out, just to get there and stay there obviously.”
So what’s next?
Torkelson and Greene are the future of the Tigers, and these promotions are significant on several levels. The future is no longer an abstract for this organization. It’s just down the road in Toledo — although neither will play in Detroit this summer. AJ Hinch has already made that clear.
I expect both will be invited to the Tigers’ spring training camp again — and you can just picture the dominant narrative next February, right?
Fans will scream: When?
Despite many hoping Torkelson and Greene will be on the Tigers’ 2022 Opening Day roster, I doubt that will happen.
If I had to guess, Greene, the Tigers’ first-round pick (at No. 5 overall) in 2019, will arrive in Detroit in May or June..
Torkelson, the Tigers’ No. 1 overall pick in 2020, will arrive sometime after that.
Unless the front office gets poetic and brings them up together.
‘It’s how you bounce back’
On one hand, Torkelson has taken a rocket this season, going from High-A West Michigan to Triple-A.
But both Torkelson and Greene have experienced some inconsistencies — a key to their development.
Torkelson struggled in spring training and at the start of the season at High-A West Michigan. And Greene hit .267 in July.
But both of them got hot in August, showing they have made adjustments.
“There were definitely ups and downs in Double-A,” Greene said. “This was kind of our first time failing. It’s how you bounce back from that failure, trying to stay as confident as possible, showing up at the field every day with a good attitude and always knowing that you’re gonna get that next at-bat and that next day.”
They were on a Zoom call, alternating talking to the media. But it’s like they were finishing each other’s thoughts.
“Yeah, exactly what Riley said,” Torkelson said. “Baseball is a game of failure and you’re not gonna go 3-for-4 every day. You’re gonna have those 0-for-4 days. You’re gonna have back-to-back 0-for-4 days. It’s just a matter of showing up to the yard for that third day and saying, ‘I’m gonna get two knocks today, today is my day.’”
“Be a good teammate every day,” Torkelson continued. “Respect the baseball gods; play the game the way it’s supposed to be played and throughout the course of a year, you’re gonna get rewarded for your hard work.”
Now, they are getting the best kind of reward:
Brady Policelli, who has played every position except for pitcher, was also shipped from Erie to Toledo, where he started the year. He hit .303 in 119 at-bats at Double-A and is the most versatile player in the Tigers’ system.
What about Ryan Kreidler?
Ryan Kreidler is headed to Toledo, too, and the fact that he was promoted at the same time as the others should not be discounted.
Kreidler could play shortstop at the MLB level right now.
And if he is the stud the Tigers think — or hope, at least — they could slide him over to second base, assuming they land a shortstop in free agency, as I suspect they will.
“He’s a really good defender and makes all the plays,” Greene said. “He’s definitely a pure shortstop. He takes control of the infield. And yeah, he’s really good at what he does.”
“Kreids is a great dude,” Torkelson said. “He works harder than a lot of people. You know, he has a great work ethic and it shows. He’s gonna be out there every single day giving it his all, and he’s smart, has a great baseball IQ and knows what he’s doing.”
Kreidler hit 15 home runs in 88 games.
“He’s strong as hell,” Torkelson said. “He’s in the weight room all the time getting stronger, maintaining his strength. So that’s where his power is. He has a great swing that he knows, and that he can dial in.”
Actually, that could describe all three of them.
And that’s why the future seems so bright for this organization.
Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.