Recalling Each of the Current Detroit Tigers’ First MLB Hits

Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene singles in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. (Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene singles in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. (Photo: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers left fielder Victor Reyes scores a run in the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 10, 2018. (Photo: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /

Victor Reyes

Reyes debuted as a Rule 5 player for the Tigers in 2018. In his third big-league game, in Cleveland on April 10, the switch-hitting Reyes led off the seventh inning in a game the Tigers trailed, 1-0. Batting right-handed against Indians southpaw reliever Tyler Olson, Reyes fell behind, 0-2, in the count. After fouling off another pitch, he put the ball in play. Second baseman Jason Kipnis dove for the ball, but it was just out of reach. Reyes followed up his first big-league hit with his first stolen base. He scored his first big-league run when Jeimer Candelario doubled him home. The Tigers had tied the game but ultimately lost, 2-1.

Austin Meadows

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth of a 2-2 tie between the San Diego Padres and his Pittsburgh Pirates on May 18, 2018, Meadows singled to right off future Tiger Tyson Ross. Another pair of future Detroit Tigers, Jordy Mercer and Ivan Nova, followed the rookie to the plate that inning. Mercer was intentionally walked after Meadows stole second. Nova hit into an inning-ending force play. Meadows singled off Ross again in the sixth. He didn’t score in the Pirates’ 3-2 loss. The 23-year-old outfielder continued to rack up hits and was named National League Rookie of the Month for May. In just 13 games, Meadows hit .409/.426/.796 with three doubles, a triple, and four home runs to earn the honors.

Eric Haase

The native Detroiter got his first big-league hit in a Detroit Tigers game on September 16, 2018. However, Haase was playing for the Cleveland Indians that day. Appearing in a starting lineup for the first time, the 25-year-old catcher struck out against the Tigers’ Francisco Liriano in the bottom of the second at Progressive Field. Haase swung at Liriano’s first pitch in the fourth. There were two men on with one out, and Haase’s RBI-single broke a 1-1 tie. He made it as far as third base before the inning ended. The Tigers went on to win, 6-4.

Harold Castro

Castro was a surprise call-up when he joined the Detroit Tigers in the waning days of the 2018 season. The 24-year-old, who had been with the organization since 2011, had already returned home to Venezuela to prepare for winter ball when he was summoned to Detroit. After debuting as a pinch runner on September 23, Castro made his first start on September 25 in Minnesota as the Tigers’ shortstop. He made the final out in both the second and fifth innings.

When he stepped in as the leadoff hitter in the top of the eighth, Detroit trailed, 1-0. That’s when the tide turned. That’s where the origin story of “Hittin’ Harold” begins.

On the first pitch he saw from Trevor Hildenberger, Castro ripped a single into right field. That turned out to be the impetus of a four-run rally. For his part, Castro also stole second. He was originally called out, but Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire challenged. Upon review, the call was overturned. Castro took third when Christin Stewart walked and scored on Nick Castellanos’ single. Detroit went on to celebrate a 4-2 victory.

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Harold Castro of the Detroit Tigers bats against the Minnesota Twins on September 25, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Gregory Soto

It may be a stretch to call Soto a modern-day Earl Wilson, but Soto just may be the best hitting Detroit Tigers pitcher since Wilson was slugging away in the late-1960s. Okay, that’s hyperbole, but believe it or not, the Tigers’ closer is 2-for-2 in his career as a big-league batter. Seven of Soto’s first eight appearances in 2019 were as a starting pitcher, including a game that was played on May 24. Detroit took on the New York Mets at Citi Field in the opener of a weekend interleague series.

Soto’s teammates had given him a nice 4-0 lead when he came to bat for the very first time in the top of the second. The 24-year-old rookie took his cuts against Noah Syndergaard. Down 0-1 in the count, Soto lined a single to left field. He made it as far as third base but was stranded. He led off the fourth with another single into center off Thor. Soto’s day was done after the Mets rocked him for four runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Tigers battled on and claimed a 9-8 victory in the end.

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Gregory Soto of the Detroit Tigers reacts after his first major league hit, a single in the second inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 24, 2019. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Willi Castro

The Detroit Tigers’ second Castro made his MLB league debut on August 24, 2019 in Minnesota. The 22-year-old shortstop went hitless in his first two at-bats against Twins starter Kyle Gibson. Detroit trailed, 6-4, when Willi led off the top of the sixth against Gibson. This time, the rookie prevailed. Castro doubled to center. He later came around to score on Victor Reyes’ single.

In his next at-bat, Castro led off the eighth. By this time, the Twins had boosted their lead to 8-5. Facing veteran reliver Sergio Romo, Castro singled into left field. Although Dawel Lugo followed with a walk, the Tigers couldn’t capitalize. The 8-5 score held up as the final in the Minnesota win.

Spencer Torkelson

Torkelson’s struggles so far in 2022 have been well-documented. Fans were so excited to see the first overall pick in the 2020 draft make his major-league debut back on Opening Day at Comerica Park. After going hitless in his first four games, Torkelson finally delivered his long-awaited first hit on April 12 against the Boston Red Sox. In the bottom of the third, the 22-year-old first baseman doubled off 42-year-old left-hander Rich Hill. It was a solid shot into the gap in right-center that a diving Christian Arroyo couldn’t snag. Torkelson came around to score the first of Detroit’s three runs that inning, but those were also Detroit’s only three runs. Boston won, 5-3.

Kody Clemens

Clemens went 0-for-17 for the Detroit Tigers this season after being summoned to the Motor City in May. On June 13, in his 10th game a big-leaguer, he finally broke that hitless streak with a leadoff single in the bottom of the second against the Chicago White Sox. The game was tied, 2-2, and Clemens came around to score the go-ahead run on Harold Castro’s single. That was still the score when Clemens faced Chicago starter Lance Lynn again in the fourth. The 26-year-old rookie second baseman singled again, but didn’t score this time. The visiting White Sox went on to beat the Tigers, 9-5.

Riley Greene

That brings us to the hit that inspired this piece. Fully recovered from the foot injury that delayed his debut, Greene arrived in Detroit on the morning of June 18. The 21-year-old centerfielder was hitting sixth in manager A.J. Hinch’s lineup that afternoon. Some pretty rare productivity from the guys in the lineup ahead of him meant that Greene would make it to the plate in the opening frame. The Tigers led the Texas Rangers, 3-1, when the top prospect in the Detroit organization stepped in against left-hander Taylor Hearn. Greene kept the rally going with a with fly ball to shallow left-center that dropped in for a single. Later in the game, Riley singled again, walked twice, and scored twice in the Tigers’ 14-7 romp.

(Roster current as of June 18, 2022.)