Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene, Mudhens throw haymakers in Iowa

DETROIT, MI - Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers looks on and smiles. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - Riley Greene of the Detroit Tigers looks on and smiles. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers Triple-A affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens, went 5-1 against the Iowa Cubs. Here is the recap of the games I went to.

The Detroit Tigers loaded the Mud Hens just in time with some of the top talents in the system.

RILEY GREENE IS MURDERING THE CUBS! STOP THE FIGHT! STOP THE FIGHT! “Throw in the damn towel, Rock!”

The Toledo Mudhens came to town to face the Iowa Cubs (known locally as the “I-Cubs”) this past week and it turned into Ivan Drago pummeling an over the hill and underprepared Apollo Creed into an early grave.  No contest.

The Mudhens had just taken on the Royals Triple-A club in Omaha the week before. There they faced the likes of Bobby Witt, MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, and Kyle Isbel. It was a hard-fought series showcasing evenly matched talent. It showed us what the AL Central fight will look like in due course.

What I witnessed in Des Moines was not that. It was very fun. It was educational. But it was incredibly one-sided most of the time as the I-Cubs roster was nothing more than a speed bump of nominal resistance the Mudhens ran over. The highlight effort being a 21-4 beat down by the Hens where they unleashed six homers and six doubles among their explosion.

Finally in Iowa

When first moving to Iowa in 2007 it was hard to give up seeing the Tigers six or seven times each year in Minnesota where we had been living. It was made all the harder when it dawned on me the Tigers Triple-A club didn’t venture to Iowa.

Therefore, while Principal Park is a nice place to watch a game, the lack of a rooting interest limited me to a few visits per year. This was mostly to let the kids eat ice cream and hug the big mascot as it meandered by. My main amusement was paying attention to ex-Tigers on either team who might be hanging around. Hiram Bocachica and Casper Wells come to mind. Andrew Romine was this week’s addition.

It was great to head to the ballpark for these games and have a real on-field interest in the goings-on. It was made all the better by the Tigers filling the Hens roster with probably the deepest crew of position players Toledo is likely to see for a long time.

This promised to be very enjoyable for all Iowa-based Tigers fans to hopefully get out and see what we all hope is the only visit Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson ever make to Central Iowa. Iowans are incredibly hospitable and I’d gladly take the guys to the St. Kilda Cafe or Exile Brewing next summer…but it’s more important the fellas hit Detroit soon.

General Impressions 

Let’s get this out of the way. I’m not a scout.  I don’t even pretend to be one of the guys pretending to be scouts.

I’m a high school umpire who sees a couple of guys in the mid-’80s but more often dudes humping it to get to 76 mph. Take my opinions for what they’re worth. I saw three games worth of action.

Naturally I am a pretend GM though…you don’t write for a site like MCB or argue moves among the Tigers Twitter Cognescenti unless you’re in touch with your inner David Dombrowski.

Riley Greene

I’m nearly ready to flip. In my mind I’ve always had Greene behind Torkelson. However this week Greene really showed a lot at the plate. The homer I witnessed on Tuesday night was a low screamer to the pull field. Greene hit a ball on Tuesday off the wall to the opposite field that only the wind kept in. There was a rocket single to left field to ignite a 5-run rally. An infield hit and a stolen base where he showed his wheels. A missile speared by the pitcher before it killed him.

Greene looked to be making adjustments during ABs and he was fine versus both lefties and righties. He might have swung at one bad pitch, maybe two, in the three games.

Spencer Torkelson

There was more good than bad. On the bad side he did strike out three times on Tuesday and seemed fooled by some rather pedestrian high heat at times. This didn’t last long.

Torkelson worked counts. He has a plan. He was driving balls to the opposite field all week. I only recall one or two fouls to the pull field. Torkelson’s homer on Tuesday was a high majestic blast to RC. On Saturday he lasered a bullet off the right-field wall for a long single. He drew his walks and was also hit by a pitch twice with a full count which would have been walks too.

Torkelson showed soft hands at first base digging out short hops. He did kick a grounder on Tuesday however.

Ryan Kreidler

Kreidler is getting an individual look in this space soon. But suffice it to say, he had a nice series in Des Moines.

Despite his size Kreidler moved smoothly with the actions a shortstop. He made all the routine plays but also made two plus plays from my view showing off a solid arm both times.

Kreidler also showed power to all fields in the series and only had two at-bats where it seemed anything fooled him.

The Rest

Daz Cameron hit two opposite field dingers which were nearly identical on Saturday. Low searing blasts to right-center. He just missed another later in the game that hit the fence about a foot low from clearing the wall.  Cameron had some spotty at bats on Wednesday afternoon. The I-Cubs slop tossers were able to get him below the zone a few times.

Isaac Paredes was stinging the ball consistently on Wednesday and Saturday after a 3 K outing on Tuesday. His approach was patient like we’ve seen and he was hitting to all fields. A dropped routine pop up was an embarrassment on Tuesday.

Josh Lester hit two homers on Saturday. Both hammered. The second one probably had to file an FAA Flight Plan. Calling it a bomb didn’t do it Justice. Can the big guy hit major league pitching? Time will tell. The power is real though.

Cody Clemens had a three double game on Saturday. He made consistently hard contact all week. Again, the competition was weak, but Clemens was up to the task. Hard not to see him earning a shot some role in ‘22.

If you were a Mudhen struggling in any category, the I-Cubs pitching staff was your chance to get well.

The Arms

Really not a lot to report. The Mudhens are built to mash more than built to throw.

Logan Shore’s command-n-control arsenal was enough to beat the Cubs twice in the series. Shore three strikes, didn’t walk many and kept the ball in the park. He sat around 92 with his heater and touched 93 a few times. Grayson Greiner seemed to have an easy night catching him after the first inning.

Ricardo Pinto was pumping gas at 97-mph. He also was just too much for the disenchanted Cubs. Once it was 13-0 after two innings, the I-Cubs were resigned to a loss and Pinto was able to mostly cruise it home with token resistance.

Angel De Jesus is a big ol’kid. He came out of the bullpen and seemed like he had some electric stuff at points. It would seem pretty certain he’ll see Detroit next year if even for just a couple of injury stints when someone goes down.

The Future

Behold the future in Motown. This Toledo lineup represents a big chunk of what will be needed to contend in ‘22 or ‘23…if any of the top guys founder, the Tiger likely will as well. This is Greene and Torkelson. They must come on to fit into finishing nearly every rebuild scenario. It appears they are both making good progress.

Greene looks like a possibly “head North” guy on Opening Day. He just has that look and the production to match.

Torkelson, barring one of his hot streaks that alters timetables, will likely be back in Toledo for a month or two next year. He just seems to miss a few too many pitches right now.

Kreidler? He might have a real shot. He’s still a year away…maybe two…but you can see the easy power his stroke has. He moves and throws well at shortstop. The Tigers should find a big leaguer at shortstop this winter. But Kreidler should stay there too in the minors and see how it plays out. They can worry about a move later.

Beyond the three recent arrivals from Erie, it did seem like Detroit should be able to develop two or three contributors to it’s cause. Paredes, Clemens, Lester, Zack Short and DeJesus plus a few others appear to have skills.

JaCoby Jones and Christin Stewart participated. (Big Stew had a couple of good hits to be fair)

Concluding

In the end, it was a great week of baseball. It appears talent is brewing in the Tigers org. One or even two franchise-type players are in hand.

Yes, the I-Cubs could make the early-in-the-movie Bad News Bears look good. But it was more about watching the patient at-bats and the steady opposite field approach throughout the lineup that made it look like a plan was in place. These guys might be getting the instruction they need to flourish. Most already have the actual taken. They just need guidance to the next level.

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