Tigers prospects Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson keep focus on game while on fast track

Detroit News
By Steve Kornacki |  Special to The Detroit News

Toledo, Ohio — Detroit Tigers prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson are taking the express train through the minor leagues. Neither has spent longer than 84 games at one stop from the low minors to their most recent station here with the Toledo Mud Hens.

They regularly change cities, leagues, levels of play, coaches, managers and, for the most part, teammates.

However, one thing never changes for them: high expectations.

Torkelson, a first baseman who turns 22 Thursday, was the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft in 2020 after hitting 54 homers with 130 RBIs in 129 games for Arizona State.

Greene, a center fielder who turns 21 next month, was the No. 5 overall pick and second high school player taken in 2019 after displaying his five-tool skills at Hagerty High in Oviedo, Florida.

The close friends and roommates are in the spotlight wherever they go.

“There is obviously a microscope and you feel it at times,” Torkelson said Tuesday after batting practice at Fifth Third Field. “But the best way to explain it is that as long as you know yourself, and you know who you are, what your values are, and you just stick to that, whatever other people tell you doesn’t matter.

“It’s all about who you are to yourself.”

Torkelson admits it isn’t easy maintaining that healthy mindset.

“It is easier said than done,” he added. “But for me, it’s just taking every day one day at a time. It’s just winning the day — going out every single day and giving my all — and whatever happens, happens. And knowing that whatever happens, I will be OK.

“I’m just looking forward to being wherever my feet are. I’ve learned that that keeps me progressing the fastest.”

Torkelson went from Class-A West Michigan to Double-A Erie in his first season of pro competition, and was assigned to Triple-A Toledo on Aug. 15 along with Greene.

“You just don’t think about the expectations,” Greene said. “It’s in the back of your head; you know it’s there. But we try to stay off social media as much as we can, and have fun playing the game, and trying to help this team win.”

Torkelson said Detroit Hall of Fame shortstop Alan Trammell, a special assistant to the general manager for the Tigers, has had the greatest impact on his development.

“I would credit a lot of people and coaches in this organization,” Torkelson said. “But Alan Trammell for one — spending every day together with him at the alt(ernate) site (in Toledo in 2020) and in spring training this year.

“The advice he gave was awesome. One thing that he said that will stick regarding hitting was, ‘You’re not going to get your A-swing off every time. And, if you get a hit on your B-swing, do you want to give it back? You know you’re good when you get hits on your B- and C-swings.’

“I loved that. He’s a big mental coach. He’s mentally strong and tough and it shows. He’s still in the weight room every day.”

More: Henning: Here’s how rookies could play part in Tigers’ 2022 Opening Day plans

Greene said Toledo hitting coach Jeff Branson has helped him significantly.

“He talks to me a lot about the approach and the mental side of things,” Greene said. “Last year, at the alt site, he was with us. He helped me become a really, really good hitter. He stresses having a plan every time you go to bat, sticking to your plan, and hitting your pitch.”

Players from the 1968 and 1984 World Series champion Tigers commented that growing up in the farm system together with so many teammates paid huge dividends.

“Going through the minor leagues together and hanging out every day,” said Torkelson, “it’s all going to be worth it when we get to the major leagues together. It builds up that chemistry, and we’ve definitely got each other’s back.

“Obviously, World Series teams are very talented. But that camaraderie, where you actually love one another and want to play good for your teammates and not just yourselves. It takes talent, and we’ve got that. But it takes an actual team.”

Greene added, “Team chemistry is a big thing. So, having that chemistry between us will help a lot.”

They’ll likely be reaching Detroit about the same time as top Tigers prospects such as Toledo shortstop Ryan Kreidler and second baseman Kody Clemens and Erie catcher Dillon Dingler.

And there’s the bond Greene and Torkelson have developed.

“Tork’s an awesome roommate,” Greene said. “We play video games and golf together. We eat together. We really do everything together.”

And on the field?

Torkelson said of Greene: “He’s just so talented as a baseball player. His tool set is pretty immaculate, and he’s barely scratching the surface of what he can be. To see that on an everyday basis is really fun to watch.”

Greene said of Torkelson: “His swing is the most impressive thing. He hits the ball with power, and it’s a really pretty swing. He’s a really good hitter and he can hit the ball very far.”

Greene had his first big game at Triple A on Sunday, going 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs. He’s batting .269 with six RBIs after seven games.

He also takes great pride in anchoring the outfield in center.

“That’s the guy in charge in the outfield,” said Greene, “and I try my best to make good plays for pitchers and get outs. My favorite part is taking hits away from hitters, and having the pitcher rely on you out there.

“Offense is fun, but making really good plays like diving catches and robbing home runs, I’d say that’s more fun.”

What’s he working on?

“Just slowing the game down as you move up and up in the levels,” Greene said. “And having fun, too. Just coming out here every day with a great attitude and confidence, and helping this team win.”

Torkelson is batting .143 with two RBIs after seven games, but hit .263 with 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 50 games at Erie. He just missed two homers Tuesday night, with an oppo-shot and pull-shot both going foul. The long ball down the left-field line scattered bikers on the street beyond the stadium.

“I think I need to work on every aspect of the game,” Torkelson said. “I’m not the best I’ll ever be. For the next 15 or 16 years, I think I’m going to be able to get better. You’re never a finished product, and that’s what I’m working towards.”

It’s all about the future for these two, who share in the high expectations others have for them.

“I’m excited to be with the Tigers,” said Greene, “and hopefully one day win a World Series.”

Steve Kornacki is a freelance writer.

Articles You May Like

Tigers To Recall Wenceel Perez For MLB Debut
Pennsylvania Lottery Online Plays
Pennsylvania Lottery Online Plays
How do we feel about our Detroit Pistons New Year’s resolutions now?
Twins at Tigers postponed on Thursday, to be made up as Saturday doubleheader

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *