Much of the discussion around the Detroit Tigers this spring training has been focused on whether top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson will make the team.
Greene and Torkelson have played as much as anyone on the Detroit Tigers this spring, and for the most part the young duo have acquitted themselves well at the plate. Greene entered Thursday’s game with an OPS well over 1.000 and five extra-base hits. Torkelson’s numbers aren’t quite as impressive, but he has controlled the strike zone well, and he has four doubles.
But Riley Greene’s spectacular catch might have stamped his ticket to Detroit.
That catch looks amazing on it own, but the context makes it even more impressive. Thursday was an extremely windy day in Dunedin, Florida, where the Toronto Blue Jays play their spring training games. Every ball that went into the air was an adventure.
Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette did his best to take the wind out of play. Matt Manning threw him a 93-MPH sinker, but Bichette turned it around at 107.4 MPH. According to Baseball Savant the expected batting average on that ball was .670. Riley Greene had other ideas.
For those of us who have followed Detroit’s prized prospect for a few years, this is nothing new. Riley Greene has shown a flair for making dramatic catches in the past, beginning in his first game with the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2019.
And Detroit Tigers fans probably remember how Riley Greene made great defensive plays seemingly every day during 2020’s summer camp:
His strong defense continued in the minor leagues last year. Here’s just one example from his time with the Erie SeaWolves, when he made two terrific diving grabs in one game:
At this point it’s more shocking when Riley Greene doesn’t make a highlight-reel catch in a game. There’s a reason he’s been our number one Detroit Tigers prospect for the past two seasons.
Riley Greene won’t be our number one prospect next year. He’s a big leaguer now.