Detroit Tigers Prospects

Detroit Tigers minor-league tools series: Best Hitter

Five of the Detroit Tigers' six draft picks in the 2020 MLB draft participated in instructional league play in Lakeland, Florida.
Five of the Detroit Tigers' six draft picks in the 2020 MLB draft participated in instructional league play in Lakeland, Florida. /
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Detroit Tigers Best Hit Tools: Number 1

Detroit Tigers
Erie SeaWolves leadoff batter Riley Greene hit this ball for a first-inning home run. /

1 – Riley Greene – OF

Riley Greene is the best hitter in the Detroit Tigers system, and one of the best hitters in all of minor-league baseball. He batted .301/.387/.534 between Double-A and Triple-A last year, and he was one of just two 20-year-olds who saw significant time in Triple-A in 2021:

Triple-A stats

Not too shabby.

Riley Greene isn’t a perfect hitter — his strikeout rate is mildly concerning — but he has everything he needs to be a plus hitter at the big-league level. He handles velocity, identifies pitches well, hits the ball incredibly hard, and makes good adjustments. The video below does a good job of demonstrating all these skills:

Grayson Rodriguez is the top pitching prospect in baseball, and it’s not hard to see why. In the first at-bat he blows Greene away with upper-90s fastballs above the belt, but watch how Greene adjusts in his second AB. This time Rodriguez breaks out a sweeping slider and diving changeup, but again tries to finish with high heat. Greene lays off 98 at the letters, stays away from a yanked slider, and then turns on another fastball for a hard single up the middle. Rodriguez missed his spot, but 98 on the inside corner is still good enough to get most minor-league hitters.

The third at-bat ends in another Greene strikeout, but it’s still a lot of fun. Greene gets ahead 3-0, and uses that advantage as an opportunity to launch. He swings under a 96MPH heater that would have been ball four, and then hits a 350-foot foul ball on a middle-middle heater at 97. Then he fights off a dastardly changeup at 84 before swinging over a nasty 85-mph breaking ball. Going 1-for-3 with 2Ks and a single doesn’t seem like the most productive day at the dish, but in a lot of years a .333 average is good enough to win a batting title, and Riley Greene has the skill to do just that some day.

Next. Expectations for Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson in 2022. dark

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