The Tigers are promoting the best prospects Riley Greeneaccording to various reporters (including Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). outfielder Austin Meadows goes on the COVID-19 injured list in a corresponding train.
Had Greene not suffered a fracture of his right foot in the final days of spring training, he was on track to make his major league debut on opening day. Instead, the 21-year-old will have to complete injury rehab and then 17 minor league games (15 at Triple-A, two at A-Ball on a rehab spell) before he’s officially considered ready for his first taste of the show.
Detroit selected Greene with a fifth overall pick of the 2019 draft, and he’s been a fixture in the top prospect rankings ever since, including a consistent top-six finish heading into the 2022 campaign. The Athletic’s Keith Law considered Greene as the third-best prospect in baseball, with Baseball America (4th), MLB Pipeline (5th) and Baseball Prospectus (6th) not far behind.
Greene only had a good start to his professional career in 2019 at the age of 18 and then of course did not play at all in 2020 due to the canceled minor league season. Last year, Greene returned to the field and hit .301/.387/.534 with 24 home runs and 16 steals in 558 plate appearances at the Double-A (373 PA) and Triple-A (185) levels.
There’s plenty of five-tool potential for Greene, who was already considered an “elite bat speed” (per Baseball America’s Scouting report) even before he started showing more power on the plate in 2021. According to BA, Greene’s “physical ability and advanced feel on the plate make him a potential plus-plus hitter fighting for batting titles, and he has the opportunity to grow to 20+ home run power.” Greene contributes to that offensive potential by posing a threat to the stolen base thanks to his plus speed, and the same speed has also helped him become a solid defensive midfielder. He might ultimately be best suited for an outfield corner, and Greene also has a strong throwing arm that would help him in right field.
As if there wasn’t enough pressure on a 21-year-old making his MLB debut, Greene also sees himself as perhaps the turning point (or savior) of a disastrous season for the Tigers. After years of rebuilding, the Tigers appeared to be turning the corner with young talent on the way up, and they expanded that core of prospects with veteran additions like Javier Baez, Eduardo Rodriguezand Meadows during the off-season.
Instead, Detroit has just a 24-39 record as the club has been hampered by injuries to almost every member of the rotation and a near-total lack of hitting. Tariq Skubal, Beau Brieskeand Alex Faedo helped keep the rotation afloat, but the Tigers hit with a .220/.275/.315 collective. Harold Castro‘s modest 114 wRC+ leads all Detroit batters who received regular or semi-regular time.
Against this background, it is probably already too late for Greene to bring about a miracle turnaround. Instead, the outfielder will look to hit the ground running and do well in his rookie season to give the Tigers something to look forward to as they reshuffle the cards for 2023 Spencer Torkelson Having struggled in his first MLB campaign, the Tigers’ long-term plan is to have Greene and Torkelson as lineup mainstays for years to come.
Meadows has hit .250/.347/.328 over 147 PA this season and is still looking for his first homer of 2022 after stomping 27 balls out of the park with the Rays last year. Meadows also battled dizziness-related symptoms for nearly four weeks and was only taken off the regular injured list on June 7.