I am coming to you at 1:35 in the morning. I can’t sleep yet again, so I’m going to write about baseball. What else is there to do at 1:30 A.M. when you can’t sleep?
Let’s get to business. Over the past couple of months, I have been to six Tiger’s minor league games, three Whitecaps games, two Seawolves games, and one Mudhens game. Out of those six games, I’ve seen the dynamic duo of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene three times.
Seeing highlight reels of Torkelson and Greene are truly amazing but for someone who is invested in them as I am seeing 30-second clips of these guys destroy baseballs in orbit was not enough. I really wanted to watch their body language and their plate approaches. Obviously, these players have tons of talent but I really wanted to see how they carried themselves.
In Erie, I saw for the first time both Tork and Riley play with my own eyes. It was unreal. I just so happened to be at a doubleheader where Spencer Torkelson went 7-7 with three home runs and two doubles. Riley Greene didn’t quite have that insane of a performance, but he did have two homers, including a grand slam and a double. Seriously, they were playing out of their freaking minds.
Both guys had very patient plate approaches and looked very comfortable in the box. The only bad at-bat I saw from both of them was Riley Greene’s second at-bat in game two of the doubleheader. Obviously, they were done pitching to Riley after he blasted his 2nd homer of the night just one at-bat prior. The Altoona Curve pitcher threw him three straight curveballs in the dirt and for whatever reason, Riley swung at them.
As far as their swings go, Torkelson has a very short and compact swing yet can still generate massive amounts of power. His swing really shows how strong he is. His swing will without a doubt translate in the bigs without much swing and miss in his game. Riley on the other hand worries me a little bit, as he has a big load and a long swing. Riley isn’t as big as a guy like Torkelson, so in order to generate more power he has to make his swing longer.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, he may have to adjust his swing at the major league level. His strikeout rate is a little under 30%, which is a little concerning.
Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene seemed like best friends. They stayed laughing and chatting throughout the game in the dugout.
A few days after my trip to Erie, the Tigers announced that Riley and Spencer had been called up to AAA Toledo. Toledo is much closer to my home in Southeast Michigan than Erie, so I took a trip to Toledo. I really wanted to see how these guys handled adversity. It’s easy to have great body language and crack jokes with your best friend when you’re absolutely destroying AA pitching. I wanted to see them react to failure and struggles.
Let me just tell you, I saw one of them struggle. Riley Greene went 3-5 with 5 RBI’s and a home run. Spencer Torkelson on the other side of things went just 1-4 with 3 strikeouts and a double, continuing the struggles since being called up.
Spencer struck out in the bottom of the 8th down by one with two on and two out. He struck out swing and tossed his bat up in the air and caught it viciously in mid-air. I could see the frustration.
This is what I wanted to see. I like to see guys get frustrated because it means they care. After striking out to end the inning, the Tiger’s number one prospect trotted out to first base like nothing happened. Baseball is a game of failure. It’s okay to be frustrated, but you have to be able to shake it off, and that’s what Spencer did.
When I’m writing this, Torkelson has a .188 batting average with a .299 OBP and a .375 slugging through 10 games, though he did have a homer last night, which might be a sign he’s heating up. He will be a-okay without a doubt in my mind, so Tigers fans have no reason to worry.
What’s flying under the radar now is how young Riley Greene actually is… Greene is just 20 years old. That would tie him for the youngest player in AAA East. 10 games in, Riley is slashing .300/.382/.467. That is insane for someone who is literally facing guys that are 4-8 years older than him. His numbers will get even better as time goes in too as he adjusts to AAA pitching. There is a lot to like about this young man.
It’s been a bit since my last article, so I just want to talk about the Jackson Jobe pick for a second. The Tigers fanbase went absolutely nuts on draft night. As you know by now, the Tigers passed on a big position of need in shortstop Marcelo Mayer at number 3 in the draft to take a prep arm in Jackson Jobe. I feel like the only person who liked the pick.
Jackson Jobe is a prep arm talent that you get once every 10-15 years. Guys like this don’t come around every year. Jackson Jobe has a slider that I think is generational. Seriously, the spin rates on Jobe’s slider are just flat-out stupid. The guy’s slider sits consistently over 3,000 RPMs (revolutions per minute). I know high school stats are kind of lame, but he put up a .13 ERA with 122/5 strikeouts to walks ratio in just 51 2/3 innings in his senior year. He’s yet to even pitch in rookie ball at the time I’m writing this, so I have no pro stats to share, unfortunately. This kid has such a high ceiling, and as long as health doesn’t become a huge concern, he is going to be an ace, if not an amazing two.
Alright, it’s almost 3 A.M. I have to leave at 10:30 tomorrow, so I should probably go to bed. As much as I would love to sit here and type about baseball all night, I just can’t. But as always thank you so much for reading, it truly means a lot.
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Photo: Mark Cunningham/MLB via Getty Images