Detroit Tigers observations: Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene arrive to spring training in style

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Spencer Torkelson has a fancy set of wheels.

The 22-year-old reported to the Detroit Tigers’ spring training facility Sunday morning, cruising into the players’ parking lot at Joker Marchant Stadium in a matte-gray 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63.

The security guard waved him through the gate.

Helluva ride.

“Thank you,” Torkelson said, laughing.

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Torkelson’s G-Class SUV retails for $156,450. He purchased the G-Wagon after the Tigers selected him No. 1 overall in 2020 out of Arizona State. His father, Rick, loaned him the down payment.

Although Torkelson signed for an $8.4 million bonus, negotiated by agent Scott Boras, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound first baseman didn’t receive the first half of his draft bonus until July 2021. He will receive the second half in July 2022.

To avoid logging more than 2,100 miles, Torkelson shipped the G-Wagon from his new 3,200-square-foot home in Gilbert, Arizona, to Lakeland. It would have been a 31-hour drive through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Instead, Torkelson traveled by plane.

Torkelson will ship his vehicle to one of two destinations — Toledo or Detroit — whenever spring training concludes. Where his Benz ends up will be determined by Tigers general manager Al Avila and manager AJ Hinch, among others.

Ready for camp?

“Oh yeah,” Torkelson said.

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This is Torkelson’s first appearance in TigerTown in 11 months. He showed up Sunday, along with other position players, for his physical exam. The first full-squad workout of minor-league minicamp is Monday.

Before the 2022 season ends, Torkelson is expected to join the Tigers’ 40-man roster and make his MLB debut. He might even make the Opening Day roster. For now, though, he remains a minor leaguer and one of the best prospects in baseball.

Torkelson soared from High-A West Michigan to Triple-A Toledo in 2021, drilling 30 home runs with a .267 batting average and .383 on-base percentage across 121 games for three affiliates. He hit .450 in seven games in the Arizona Fall League.

His teammate with the Mud Hens, outfielder Riley Greene, is knocking on the door of his MLB debut, too. The Tigers drafted him No. 5 overall in 2019, and he signed for a $6.18 million bonus. He hit .301 with 24 homers and 16 stolen bases for Double-A Erie and Toledo.

Greene, who lives near Orlando, reported to the complex Sunday morning in his red and black Ford F-150 Raptor, with outfielder Eric De La Rosa riding shotgun. They hopped out of the truck, grabbed their bags and scurried into the clubhouse.

But not before Greene’s baseball bats slid out of a cardboard box and onto the cement.

The 21-year-old is going to need those bats; his offense is his ticket to the show. He appears on track to make the Opening Day roster, considering last year’s .308 average in 40 Triple-A games, but nothing is set in stone.

Before Torkelson purchased his G-Wagon, he owned a Raptor similar to Greene’s model. He gifted his old truck to Arizona State hitting coach Michael Earley, now the hitting coach at Texas A&M.

Torkelson and Greene are living together this spring, along with rising shortstop prospect Ryan Kreidler. The three of them played for the Mud Hens last season.

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Greene didn’t need to ship his vehicle, but doing so is fairly common.

Just ask Tigers shortstop Izaac Pacheco, the No. 39 overall pick in 2021 from Friendswood High in Texas.

Pacheco, 19, shipped his black Ford-150 Texas Edition, deciding not to make the 15-hour drive from his hometown. Right-hander Jackson Jobe, the No. 3 overall pick in 2021, picked him up at the airport Friday night.

“It’s not too expensive,” Pacheco said, “so I’m like, ‘I might as well.'”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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