The Detroit Tigers’ instructional league is now the hottest ticket in town for fans of the Olde English D with many of the franchise’s minor leaguers honing their skills during the fall round of competition. While top-ranked prospects like Casey Mize and Matt Manning — or even next-tier names like Alex Faedo — will not be partaking in the autumn activities, there are still a few notable players to keep an eye on. One of those players is Detroit’s 2019 first round draft pick, Riley Greene.
Greeney is gettin’ goin’
All of the optimism in Motown these days is focused on the future of the Tigers as the “rebuild” continues into its fifth season and Greene — who just turned 20 years old at the end of September — represents one of the brightest spots for the franchise in terms of positional player talent. Despite a rude awakening during the team’s summer camp last July, the athletic outfielder is gaining confidence in his game.
After his short stint with the big league boys, he had the opportunity to face some of the Tigers’ most formidable prospect pitchers, including Mize, Manning and Tarik Skubal. Evan Petzold at the Detroit Free Press offered the following quote from the team’s rising star in regards to his time in Toledo with the other top prospects.
“I learned a lot about myself as a player. ... I was there to get better. It worked. My swing right now feels better than it’s ever felt in my life. And I put on a couple of pounds when I was there, too. That was the best thing for me.”
The one part of his game the Greene feels has improved significantly is his number one tool — his hitting. Speaking to Evan Woodbery of MLive, he also expressed his satisfaction with his alternate camp experience.
“I was there to get better. It worked. My swing, right now, feels better than it’s ever felt in my life.
“I think that summer camp in Toledo was probably one of the best things for me. I learned a lot about myself as a player. I just learned a lot of things from the coaches there.
“I feel very comfortable with my swing now. I learned a lot in the outfield. I feel pretty good about myself after those past couple months.”
Even though Greene was not a top pick like Mize or this year’s No. 1 draft selection Spencer Torkelson, he could very well have the highest ceiling of all the organization’s prospects, and if things pan out well, may very well be a pillar in the future of the Detroit Tigers franchise.
19-year-old Riley Greene out here robbing dingers pic.twitter.com/PeH96Hn9K8— Ballplayer City (@BallplayerCity) July 14, 2020
Next Tigers manager: Lombard vs Thames
Here at Bless You Boys, we have already taken a look at Los Angeles Dodgers’ first base coach George Lombard along with former Tiger and New York Yankees’ current hitting coach Marcus Thames as possible replacements for now-retired Ron Gardenhire and interim manager Lloyd McClendon.
Cody Stavenhagen took a look at the pros and cons of the two coaches when compared side-by-side for The Athletic, making a very fair case for both despite their lack of head coach experience, while also pointing out some serious flaws in both of their resumes. Nonetheless, both still have much to offer from their respective backgrounds and could very well delegate their weaknesses to more knowledgeable members of their staff if hired.
At the end of the day, both candidates have intriguing qualities, but do they help put the Tigers over the top as the supposed “rebuild” comes to a close? Chances are, it is not very likely.
Meet the venerable Will Venable
On the topic of future Tigers managers, there is one name that has remained in the background of the din surrounding Gardy’s replacement who bears some intriguing qualities. According to the Detroit Free Press, former major leaguer Tony Gwynn Jr., who shares a name with his late Hall of Fame father, believes that Will Venable — currently third base coach for the Chicago Cubs — is the right man for the opening in Detroit.
“I think he’s smart enough. He’s that hybrid blend of having some old-school qualities mixed in with the new-school qualities. That’s important.”
The story behind the relationship between Gwynn Jr. and Venable is a rather interesting one, sparked not by his father’s connections in the baseball world, but through the latter’s then-girlfriend (now wife), Kathryn, who sat in the same row as Gwynn on a flight to Portland en route to a game against the San Diego Padres’ Triple-A team — with whom Venable was playing at the time — while he was in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization.
Personal interests aside, Venable could be an intriguing candidate for the Tigers’ job, but does not exactly bring anything noticeably special to the table. Much like Lombard and Thames, he also lacks managerial experience, so it will take more than a few endorsements from the likes of Gwynn Jr. to earn him a serious shot at the helm of Detroit’s ship as the franchise sails into the future.
Spencer Torkelson update
Around the horn
Scrounge up your spare change because the American Association’s Sioux Falls Canaries are up for sale. Hey Tampa Bay Rays, why don’t you stop throwing the high fastball to Houston Astros’ Josè Altuve? Speaking of the Astros, Carlos Correa calls shot before walk-off homer in Game 5 against the Rays: “I’m going to end it”. A former linebacker with no fear, Bryse Wilson proves he’s worthy. Another playoff start, another nightmare for Clayton Kershaw and Los Angeles Dodgers. Chicago White Sox get OK from Los Angeles Angels to talk to Tony La Russa about job, source says. Future MLB general managers: Eight candidates who could eventually become your favorite team’s next GM. Plato’s Cave: A 2020 Baseball Allegory.