Less than a week ago, the Detroit Tigers opened up the Grapefruit League calendar against the Philadelphia Phillies. On Friday, a split squad from the Tigers headed to Clearwater to tackle the Phillies on the road and ultimately took them down by a score of 6-3. Action now turns to George Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa as the other half of the Tigers spring squad takes on the Yankees at 6:35 p.m.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at the power on display from the Tigers’ offense against Phillies pitching. The wind was blowing out to left-center, but even so the boys hit some majestic shots. More important was who hit them.
First to unload was the Tigers brightest hope for the future, center fielder Riley Greene. He took reliever Mike Adams deep to the opposite field in the third inning with former Philly Matt Vierling aboard. Vierling had already gotten the Tigers on the board by singling home Jonathan Davis to open a 1-0 lead. Greene quickly made it 3-0 with this no-doubter.
Riley Greene crushes a 2-run homer to left center. pic.twitter.com/vmuS4lFtoU— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) March 3, 2023
One of the big question marks on a team full of them this spring, was how long it would take catcher Jake Rogers to get up to speed at the plate. Out of action since the summer of 2021 for UCL reconstruction, the Tigers best defensive option behind the plate already had one tater on the spring. He made it two in the fourth inning by doing what he does best; crushing on lefties.
Big fly @_JROG_! pic.twitter.com/b4Pg0jhcP3— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) March 3, 2023
In the fifth, it was Vierling producing again. In an 0-2 count, reliever Louis Head tried to front door a curveball for strike three and instead watched Vierling lift it out of the park to left center field.
CAUTION: Matt Vierling's bat is hot. pic.twitter.com/gQ2Tnr4Y9Y— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) March 3, 2023
Finally, and perhaps most deliciously, top position prospect 3B Colt Keith, our second ranked Tigers’ farmhand, got in on the action. Keith torched High-A for two months and change in 2022, but a shoulder injury caused him to miss the rest of the season. He got in some work in the Arizona Fall League, but hasn’t even played at the Double-A level yet. So it was nice to see him taking reliever Erich Uelmen, a right-hander who was pretty decent in the majors last for the Cubs, deep to right field with a short, crisp stroke. Cars were in danger as this thing left the bat at 100.2 mph and carried out of the park.
Colt Keith with a deep home run to right. pic.twitter.com/6ROwGxq2ix— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) March 3, 2023
All in all a pretty good showing by the Tigers. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched well again, commanding all three pitches and sitting comfortably 92-93 mph. The lefty will now head out for the World Baseball Classic as he’s playing for Team Venezuela along with Miguel Cabrera. So far, he looks close to mid-season form.
Javier Báez is also due to head out for WBC action, playing for Team Puerto Rico. He smoked a pair of doubles in this one, though he also grounded into a double play. Closer Alex Lange struck out the side in his inning of work. Tyler Alexander was hit hard, surrendering a pair of home runs, including a two-run shot from J.T. Realmuto, who will do that sort of thing to you. Reliever Edwin Uceta had a nice outing with three strikeouts in two innings of work, while flamethrower Elvis Alvarado had his control in this one and carved up the Phillies to earn the save.
Tigers relief prospect Elvis Alvarado needed just 10 pitches to get the save. pic.twitter.com/02zJV5XgZu— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) March 3, 2023