Detroit Tigers observations: What trade piece showed vs. Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Reese Olson is enjoying his first spring training in TigerTown.

The 22-year-old pitching prospect joined the Detroit Tigers last July, when the Milwaukee Brewers traded him for a couple months of Daniel Norris. Olson took the mound Thursday for his first live batting practice session of minor-league minicamp.

The Tigers paired Olson with Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene and Ryan Kreidler.

“It’s fun to be out there with guys like that,” Olson said Thursday, after his 15-pitch performance. “It’ll be more fun once we get a little more into it and everyone’s in the full swing of things and not so rusty. But it was fun, for sure.”

All three hitting prospects received five pitches from Olson, who showcased his fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. (He tossed one curveball but at least two of everything else.) Torkelson is the Tigers’ No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, followed by Greene at No. 2 and Kreidler at No. 10.

To start, Torkelson drew a five-pitch walk.

“I was yanking, just pulling across my body,” Olson said. “I think that’s just kind of a mechanical issue and being a little rusty. Having the visual of a hitter in there is a little bit different than anything I’m used to so far this year.”

STAR IN THE MAKING: Tigers’ Izaac Pacheco resembles Nick Castellanos at 19 — only better

Olson settled in with Kreidler and Greene in the batter’s box.

He produced two swings and misses against Kreidler; Greene grounded out to second base and fouled off a pitch on a checked swing.

“I think I only threw a few balls once those guys got in there,” Olson said. “After I got a few balls out of the way to Torkelson, it was solid from there.”

Olson is the Tigers’ No. 11 prospect.

He finished last season with a 3.96 ERA, 51 walks and 114 strikeouts over 104⅔ innings in 21 starts. Upon joining a new farm system, the 6-foot-1 right-hander fired 11 scoreless innings with two walks and 14 strikeouts in two starts for High-A West Michigan.

“He’s got a lot of confidence in all of his pitches,” Tigers catching prospect Dillon Dingler said. “He can go to whatever pitch he wants to with (any hitter), righty or lefty. He gets to do what he wants to do, and you try to do that as a pitcher. It’s really fun catching him, knowing he has the confidence to throw whatever (sign) we put down.”

In five starts for Double-A Erie, Olson posted a 4.74 ERA, 14 walks and 21 strikeouts across 24⅔ innings.

“I feel like I’ve built ever since coming over from the trade,” Olson said. “I’m definitely trending upward, I feel like. The biggest thing for me is limiting walks. If I can do that, I think everything will be solid.”

MORE ON OLSON: After Daniel Norris trade, Tigers prospect Reese Olson is ready to emerge

ON THE MAP: Why Tigers’ Wilmer Flores, brother of MLB veteran, ‘should have signed for over $1 million, not $20,000’


The players had a short practice Thursday because most were hitting the links for an annual golf outing, which brought out passion and trash talk.

Top pitching prospect Jackson Jobe, whose father, Brandt, is a professional golfer, was playing it cool.

“Given your family lineage, is there more pressure?” a reporter asked.

“Definitely,” Jobe said.

Then, he tried to set low expectations, saying he was headed to the driving range.

“I’m a little rusty,” he said. “But I’m gonna go out right now and hit some balls.”

Some of his teammates weren’t buying it, suggesting he was downplaying his ability.

On the other hand, outfielder Jacob Robson looked confident, walking toward the parking lot. He pointed at his red-and-white Canadian-themed socks.

“See these,” said Robson, who is from Canada. “They are gonna shave off four to five strokes today.”

THE BOOK ON JOBE: Potential for Jackson Jobe? NL scout: ‘No. 1 starter on championship team’

ADJUSTING TO PRO BALL: How Jackson Jobe is already making changes to key pitch

The tale of the can opener

Torkelson vs. the can continues to be an ongoing joke.

Torkelson famously cut his right index finger in 2021 spring training while trying to open a can of beans. His Airbnb didn’t have a can opener, so he tried to improvise and it went awry. Lesson learned.

Now, Torkelson is living with four teammates, including outfielder Parker Meadows, in a four-bedroom rented house.

“Is there a can opener in the house?” a reporter asked Meadows.

“Wherever it’s at, it has caution tape on it,” Meadows said, smiling.

Meadows and Torkelson are sharing a room, each sleeping on their own twin bed.

Meadows’ feet hang off the end; he is 6 feet 5.

“I’m getting some good ankle mobility,” he joked.

GREENE: Ready to make his case for Opening Day roster: ‘I love playing center field’

TORKELSON: Why he looks different and may be starting at first base this season

Waiting on Perez

Former top prospect Franklin Perez, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery in May, said he is close to throwing off a mound.

“Not yet,” he said. “But soon.”

The 24-year-old, included in the 2017 Justin Verlander trade, continues to throw from 150 feet in his throwing program.

Keep an eye on…

Cristian Santana, a talented 18-year-old shortstop, continues to impress.

Facing 26-year-old reliever Drew Carlton, Santana hit a solid single to left field, followed by a deep flyout that nearly reached the warning track. Carlton pitched for the Tigers in the big leagues last season, logging 3⅔ innings.

[ Cristian Santana makes bold statement about Alan Trammell ]

Hitting the buzz saw

Right-hander Elvis Alvarado has a low arm slot, not quite sidearm. But he hides the ball so well it looks like it’s coming from third base. The Tigers selected him with their first pick in December’s minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

Alvarado, 23, was throwing so hard Thursday morning that he sawed off Jose De La Cruz’s bat. De La Cruz was left standing in the batter’s box, holding the handle of a broken bat. The other piece went flying.

METEORIC RISE: Inside the pitches that make Tigers prospect Tanner Kohlhepp

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

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