Why Detroit Tigers scratched prized prospect Riley Greene from Arizona Fall League

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers prospect Riley Greene has been scratched from the Arizona Fall League roster.

The 21-year-old center fielder sustained a concussion during his final game for Triple-A Toledo, an Oct. 2 matchup against the St. Paul Saints at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Free Press on Monday. The source wished to remain anonymous because the Tigers have not disclosed the injury.

Trying to make a play with two outs in the fourth inning, Greene lost sight of a fly ball but attempted to recover with a diving catch in left-center field. As Greene extended, he collided with left fielder Jacob Robson. Both players stayed in the game.

Later on, Greene reported concussion symptoms. He failed a concussion test and did not play in the Mud Hens’ final game of the season.

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The plan was for Greene to board an Arizona-bound plane immediately after the Triple-A season ended Oct. 3. The Tigers wanted him to arrive three or four days ahead of his report date for the Arizona Fall League, where he was supposed to play for the Salt River Rafters. (The AFL season begins Oct. 13 and wraps up with the AFL Championship Game on Nov. 20.)

After the concussion, the Tigers told Greene to go home and rest, before showing up in Lakeland, Florida — home of the organization’s spring training complex — for further tests. Greene still expected to compete for the Rafters until Sunday, when the Tigers told him they removed him from the AFL roster.

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Outfielder Eric De La Rosa replaced Greene on the Rafters’ roster, which includes Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson, shortstop Ryan Kreidler and right-handers Chavez Fernandez, Wilmer Flores, Zack Hess and Garrett Hill.

De La Rosa, 24, played 104 games this season split between Low-A Lakeland (16), High-A West Michigan (59) and Double-A Erie (29). He hit .273 with seven triples, eight home runs, 50 RBIs, 37 walks and 124 strikeouts, and stole 34 bases. The Tigers selected him in the seventh round of the 2018 draft from Grossmont College.

On Monday, Greene drove to Lakeland.

He will complete concussion protocol testing throughout the week with the Tigers’ training staff. Once Greene makes a full recovery, he will begin his offseason. The Tigers pulled him from the AFL roster because they didn’t want to rush him back into competition, especially not after he played a career-high 124 games this season in the minor leagues.

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Greene is the No. 2 prospect in the farm system, according to MLB Pipeline, and was named the Tigers’ minor league player of the year. He will get a chance to make the 2022 Opening Day roster, possibly as the team’s starting center fielder, but needs to perform well in spring training.

Greene hit .301 with eight triples, 24 home runs, 84 RBIs, 63 walks and 153 strikeouts across 124 games for Erie (84 games) and Toledo (40 games). At Triple-A, he shined with a .308 batting average, eight homers, 30 RBIs, 22 walks and 51 strikeouts.

The Tigers drafted Greene No. 5 overall in 2019 out of Paul J. Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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