Detroit Tigers top prospect Riley Greene to be called up for his MLB debut

More than two months ago, Detroit Tigers top prospect Riley Greene fractured his right foot on a foul ball in spring training. Because of the injury, he didn’t make the Opening Day roster.

Now, Greene is healthy.

It’s time.

The Tigers announced they’re calling him up Saturday for his MLB debut against the Texas Rangers at Comerica Park. Greene, drafted No. 5 overall in 2019, is the No. 2 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

The 21-year-old joins fellow top prospect Spencer Torkelson, who secured his spot on the Opening Day roster the same day the Tigers learned Greene fractured his foot and would be sidelined for months.

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Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, is hitting .181 with four home runs, 23 walks and 55 strikeouts in 57 games. Despite his struggles on offense, he has displayed above-average defense at first base.

Torkelson’s production is an example of MLB’s challenges.

The Tigers need help offensively, averaging an MLB-worst 2.68 runs per game, but Greene isn’t expected to solve all the problems by himself. That would be unfair. Several veteran players, especially shortstop Javier Báez, must boost their production.

Toledo Mud Hens outfielder Riley Greene, the Detroit Tigers’ top prospect, jogs into the dugout during a game against the Iowa Cubs on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio.

Still, Greene has hit for his entire pro career.

He had a career .291 batting average in the minor leagues. He clobbered 25 doubles, eight triples and 24 home runs, while hitting .301, in 124 games last season for Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.

Miguel Cabrera, on his way to the Hall of Fame, called Greene the Tigers’ best hitter in spring training. Greene earned the praise by hitting .429 with three doubles, two triples, two home runs, three walks and six strikeouts in 11 games. He was a lock to make the Opening Day roster until his injury.

Detroit Tigers prospect Riley Greene warms up during spring training minor league minicamp Monday, Feb.  21, 2022 at Tiger Town in Lakeland, Fla.

Detroit Tigers prospect Riley Greene warms up during spring training minor league minicamp Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 at Tiger Town in Lakeland, Fla.

Expectations should be tempered for all prospects, Greene included, but this left-handed hitter has all the tools to emerge immediately. One weakness is his strikeout rate, 27.6% in Triple-A last season. He is a difference maker in numerous ways: at the plate, in the outfield and on the bases.

Back in 2020, Greene hit .417 with two homers in seven spring training games. The next spring, he hit .231 in 22 games. He hit .271 in the minors in 2019, then .301 in 2021.

He seems likely to have similar success in the majors, either sooner or later.

That’s why Greene was on track to make the Opening Day roster. He suffered the broken foot April 1, nearing 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 began his rehabilitation program. He returned to games May 29 for Low-A Lakeland and moved up to Triple-A Toledo on May 30.

Greene crushed a three-run home run in his third game for the Mud Hens. He hit .292 with six walks and nine strikeouts in 12 games, serving as the starting center fielder in 11 games.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers top prospect Riley Greene to be called up for MLB debut

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