Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene has no timetable

Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene takes batting practice in the cage during summer camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Riley Greene takes batting practice in the cage during summer camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. /

A lot of variables are in play for 2021 including what level the Detroit Tigers will place Riley Greene. But if he’s ready, play him.

When you think back to July and summer camp at Comerica Park, you think of Riley Greene making great catches and hitting a Matt Manning change up for a home run. The Detroit Tigers outfielder made an impression.

Even if you take away the fact he was hitting against his own team, it was your first time seeing him play, he looked like he belonged on the major league club. Then I had to take off my navy blue and orange colored classes and realized that, he has never played above Low-A ball at West Michigan.

Among the myriad of reasons it was unfortunate the minor league season was canceled including minor league players not being able to make an income, Detroit Tigers fans were not able to see the progress in Riley Greene or  Franklin Perez getting innings to build up his arm again and the progress of the 2019 draft class that includes Bryant Packard, who has lost 20 lbs, Nick Quintana and others.

Yesterday, we heard Spencer Torkelson’s bat. It was loud and it was against the Blue Jays instructional league squad. With that, the Detroit Tigers started up the new Bash Brothers of Torkelson and Greene.

So take away all the social media noise and public relations articles out of your head for a moment and let’s look at some stats.

Player A-39 games .362/.462/.757 OPS of 1.218 29 BB 29 SO

Player B-139 games .325/.374/.522 OPS of .896 43 BB 144 SO

Player A is Juan Soto at the age of 19 before he got the call up to Washington between low-A, High-A, and Double-A in 2018 and player B is Ronald Acuna Jr in his time in the Braves system between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

If you look purely at the stat lines of Greene’s numbers at West Michigan in 2019, you can say well Rogelio, he should stay at West Michigan another year. But the difference when I saw him in person to now is leaps and bounds of development

Detroit Tigers fans sometimes and fans, in general, do not want to rush a prospect. I saw the comments about Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal this season and how Detroit rushed them up but really did they have any other choice? No, not really.  You can have that debate about Jake Rogers in 2019, sure but Mize and Skubal had to learn trial by fire despite the lack of minor league innings.

But if Riley Greene continues to be a special talent as he is and getting comps to Mr. Tiger himself Al Kaline and he is putting up numbers as Soto or Acuna did in the minors in 2021, call him up. It could be June, it could be July, I don’t care, call him up. We did not have an issue with a pair of legends in Detroit getting a call up in Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker when they made their debuts in 1977. (Yes, they were September call ups but their team, Montgomery would win the Southern League title that season)

The Detroit Tigers have not had a young talented outfielder like Greene in quite some time. If you are going to be rebuilding and sell the heck out of the youth movement, then go all in. The depth the Tigers have in their system who could play either corner outfielder position or centerfield for that matter is lacking.

This may sound like an easy statement to make but let’s consider that Al Avila is under the gun to deliver at least a team that is closing in on .500. The fans are restless and if he and his staff do not think Greene is ready to go and they go with a 4-A player instead, heads may roll. Avila may want to go with a proven player.

Greene has never played above Low-A as we talked about earlier but he may have played in Lakeland this season if there was a minor league season. Soto made the leap from Low-A to Double-A so if Greene has progressed that far, he may end up starting the season at wherever Double-A is.

Spencer Torkelson could be added to the conservation as well but for now, the Detroit Tigers need help everywhere. We saw the youth in the pitching staff which as fans, excited us all as these players were homegrown talents they drafted. Greene would be one of the first drafted positional players during the Al Avila era to make it up to the majors.  For once, my cautious optimism about the team’s future is a bit brighter. Let’s hope the variables come to fruition.