more than two months ago, Detroit The Tigers’ top prospect, Riley Greene, fractured his right foot on a foul ball during spring training. Due to the injury, he did not make the opening day roster.
Now Greene is healthy.
The Tigers announced they were calling him Saturday for his MLB debut against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. He will be the team’s full-time centre-back.
Greene, drafted No. 5 overall in 2019, is baseball’s No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
The 21-year-old joins compatriot Spencer Torkelson, who earned his spot on the opening day roster the same day the Tigers learned Greene had fractured his foot and would be sidelined for periods of time. month.
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Torkelson, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, hits .181 with four home runs, 23 walks and 55 strikeouts in 57 games. Despite struggling on offense, he displayed above-average defense at first base.
Torkelson’s results are an example of MLB’s challenges for young players across the league.
The Tigers need help offensively, averaging 2.68 carries per game, the worst in MLB, but Greene isn’t expected to solve all the problems on his own. It would be unfair. Several veteran players, including shortstop Javier Báez, need to boost their production.
Still, Greene has been hitting throughout his professional career.
He had a career batting average of .291 in the minor leagues. He hit 25 doubles, eight triples and 24 homers, while hitting .301, in 124 games last season for Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.
Miguel Cabrera, en route to the Hall of Fame, called Greene the Tigers’ best hitter in spring training. Greene earned the accolades hitting .429 with three doubles, two triples, two homers, three walks and six strikeouts in 11 games.
He was a lock to make the opening day list until his injury.
Expectations should be tempered for all prospects, including Greene, but this southpaw hitter has all the tools to emerge immediately. One weakness is his strikeout rate, 27.6% in Triple-A last season. He makes the difference in many ways: at home plate, in the outfield and on base.
In 2020, Greene hit .417 with two homers in seven spring training games. The following spring, he hit .231 in 22 games. It reached .271 among minors in 2019, then .301 in 2021.
He seems likely to have similar success at the majors sooner or later.
That’s why Greene was on track to make the opening day roster. He broke his foot on April 1, near the end of his third spring training, against the New York Yankees at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland.
He took time away from baseball activities to allow his foot to heal. Eventually, he started his rehab program. He returned to games on May 29 for Low-A Lakeland and moved to Triple-A Toledo on May 30.
Greene smashed a three-run homer in his third game for the Mud Hens. He hit .274 with six walks and 14 strikeouts in 15 games, serving as the starting center fielder in 14 games.
Prior to Friday’s game, right fielder Austin Meadows was dropped from the roster. He tested positive for COVID-19 and, with the roster spot open, the Tigers decided to promote Greene to the majors.
As Greene steps into his new role, he’ll be joined in the outfield by Robbie Grossman in left field and Victor Reyes in right field. Once Meadows is healthy, he’ll return to his starting role, leaving the Tigers to choose between Grossman and Reyes at one corner of the outfield.
Grossman is hitting .195 with a .296 on-base percentage in 48 games, while Reyes — injured twice this season — is hitting .311 with a .340 OBP in 16 games. Grossman, though he led the Tigers with 23 homers last season, is still looking for his first long ball this season.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers top prospect Riley Greene to be called up for MLB debut