Detroit Tigers prospects Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, and Ryan Kreidler figure to make an impact on the Detroit Tigers in 2022
Hours after Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch mentioned that he was unsure of the front office’s plans for handling Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene (apart from the fact they will not be in Detroit this season), the club announced that Torkelson, Greene, and Ryan Kreidler were promoted to Triple-A Toledo.
The announcement comes as a mild surprise considering the timing of where they are in the season as well as the timelines of each developmentally. Greene is still just 20 years old and will now be facing competition nearly a decade his elder; many of whom have MLB experience under their belt.
Torkelson, meanwhile, was just drafted last year–and while he was regarded as one of the more polished hitters in the draft in some time, his development and results thus far have been a bit of a roller coaster. In 19 games this spring, Torkelson slashed .037/.161/.037, and those struggles carried into MiLB spring training and the start of the minor league season. During May in West Michigan, Tork hit .235/.379/.397 with 21 strikeouts in 19 games.
That said, the organization seems to value rewarding strong performances, and just as Torkelson was on a high when he left West Michigan (he slashed .439/.537/.854 for the Whitecaps in June before the Erie call-up), they took the same approach with his Toledo promotion. Torkelson, of course, is only a few days removed from his heralded 7 for 7 performance across a double-header with three home runs.
Kreidler has been the afterthought in the shadows of Greene and Torkelson (just ask MLB Pipeline) but his performance has been encouraging, especially lately. Kreidler was dealt a tough assignment in Erie and while swing-and-miss haunted him a bit, he’s been a solid offensive compliment for the Seawolves. In August, Kreidler hit .296/.377/.481 and was .256/.325/.429 on the year for them before the Toledo promotion.
Whiffs will be something to continue to monitor for Kreidler in Toledo as well. While he is comfortable going deep into counts, he only had one game in August where he didn’t strike out at least one time. Defensively, while sure-handed at shortstop, his range and mobility are less than ideal for the position, which makes me wonder if an infield do-it-all role is in his future.
The Detroit Tigers’ future is close to arriving
The over-arching theme to all of these moves, though, is that the front office is pleading and praying that each is a part of the 2022 Detroit Tigers squad at some capacity. Today, I would not say any of the three are a lock to make the opening day roster, but Triple-A is a place where prospects go to get lost more than prove themselves. Just ask Jake Rogers or Christin Stewart.
We have seen numerous examples who can make the jump from Double-A straight to the show. The quality of competition is often more electric there. Toledo is a broiler; while still a very necessary part of development, those who stay too long will turn into toast. It gives each the chance to receive further refinement in 2021 in hopes that the necessary big-league adjustments will occur sooner and therefore warrant the ultimate promotion to the major leagues.
Additionally, these call-ups offer an opportunity for each to get to play meaningful baseball. Toledo enters Monday just .5 games out of first place in the Triple-A East’s Midwest division. Torkelson figures to slide into Renato Nunez’s vacancy. Kreidler likely takes over for Isaac Paredes, who was sent to Lakeland, and likely pushes Cole Peterson to second. Greene, meanwhile, may end up filling in for Daz Cameron, who is currently on a rehab assignment.
With the moves, the expectation will be for each to start 2022 at least in Toledo and perhaps get a fair shake at a roster spot (although who knows how service time rules will shake out with the next CBA lurking this winter). It’s become clear now, though, that Hinch’s rhetorical question has been answered: that the value of 20 games in Toledo is higher than the comfort of Erie.