Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tigers top prospects 2022: Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson are the big names in Detroit’s system

Major League Baseball’s owners may have locked out the players, triggering the league’s first work stoppage since 1994-95 and bringing the offseason to a halt, but that doesn’t mean we’re letting it derail our typical offseason plans. Indeed, CBS Sports is in the process of highlighting the top three prospects for all 30 teams. That journey finds us today focusing on the Detroit Tigers‘ farm system. 

Do note that these lists are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development folks from around the league. There is personal bias baked in, as one would expect from subjective exercises, so some disagreement is to be expected.

1. Riley Greene, CF (No. 6 on MLB top 20)

Greene, the fifth pick in the 2019 draft, split his first full professional season between Double- and Triple-A, hitting .301/.387/.534 with 24 home runs, 33 troubles (triples plus doubles), and 16 stolen bases on 17 tries. He celebrated his 21st birthday in September. Predictably, Greene is considered to be an intelligent, polished hitter who should fit in near the top of Detroit’s lineup at some point early in the season. The big question is where he’ll play defensively. The Tigers have primarily played him in center so far, and it’s possible that’s where he begins his big-league career before eventually sliding to a corner (he has enough of an arm for right if so desired). 

2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B (No. 8 on MLB top 20)

Torkelson, the No. 1 pick in 2020, soared all the way to Triple-A in his first professional season. Overall, he performed as you would expect someone with cleanup-hitter aspirations to: batting .267/.383/.552 with 30 home runs and a 14.5 percent walk rate. He’s often been compared to Andrew Vaughn of the White Sox because of their similar profiles: each has big raw strength and a feel for hitting, as well as the intelligence to make adjustments as needed. (Vaughn, for his part, had a disappointing rookie campaign in 2021.) The Tigers announced Torkelson as a third baseman on draft day, and they’ve continued to crosstrain him at both corner-infield positions. Scouts still expect him to end up at first base, however. With the Tigers gearing up to compete in 2022, odds are Torkelson will debut early in the season. 

3. Jackson Jobe, RHP

The Tigers went off-script when they selected Jobe, a prep arm from Oklahoma, with the third pick in the 2021 draft. There’s ample risk in taking high-school pitchers that early, but there were scouts with other organizations who believed Jobe was the best pitching prospect in the class. He has a couple of potential top-notch offerings, in his fastball and slider, that could mature into plus-plus pitches. Jobe also has a changeup that he’s made progress with, giving him a chance at becoming a front-end starter in time. There’s serious boom-or-bust potential here; clearly the Tigers think he’ll boom.

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