Plans to further groom Tigers star prospect Riley Greene for big-league duty in 2022 ran into a potential hitch when a concussion scratched Greene from the 2021 Arizona Fall League roster.
The concussion occurred during a collision in Greene’s final game, Oct. 2, against St. Paul, at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. Greene dived for a ball in left-center field, crashed hard to the ground, but stayed in the game. He later complained of feeling “foggy,” was given a test for a possible concussion, failed it, and his season ended with one game remaining on the Mud Hens’ schedule.
Greene, 21, is the Tigers’ top farm prospect and a center fielder who had a dazzling year at Double A Erie and during a late-summer stretch at Triple A Toledo. He batted a combined .301 at both stops, with 24 home runs, and a .921 OPS.
He was named last week by the Tigers as their 2021 Minor League Position Player of the Year.
Greene was supposed to begin play this week with the AFL’s Salt River Rafters, which also is home this autumn to Tigers hitting prospects Spencer Torkelson and Ryan Kreidler. A pair of Tigers pitching prodigies, Zack Hess and Garrett Hill, also will be playing for Salt River.
Another of the Tigers’ farm outfielders, Eric De La Rosa, will replace Greene on the Rafters roster. De La Rosa, 24, and a 2018 seventh-round Tigers pick (Grossmont College), played at two Single A stops — Lakeland and West Michigan — as well as at Erie and, collectively, hit .273, with eight homers, and an .807 OPS.
Information on Greene’s recovery timetable was not offered Sunday by the Tigers. He is expected, for now, to contend during 2022 spring camp for a potential starting spot in manager AJ Hinch’s Opening Day lineup.
This year’s AFL features six teams that will play 90 games through Nov. 19.
Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.