Greene, Torkelson among touted prospects to debut so far

Apr 17, 2022, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:21 pm
Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. runs to third after hitting a triple during the first inning of ...

Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. runs to third after hitting a triple during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Even in this era of triple-digit fastballs and high strikeout totals, Hunter Greene has a chance to stand out.

The Cincinnati rookie went toe-to-toe with the powerful Dodgers on Saturday night, shutting them out for five innings before Trea Turner finally hit a two-run homer off him in the sixth. In just his second big league start, Greene threw 39 pitches that were 100 mph or faster, the most since pitch tracking began in 2008.

According to Statcast, Greene is averaging 100 mph with his four-seam fastball so far.

Greene is ranked as baseball’s No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He’s one of a handful of noteworthy newcomers who have debuted in this young season. Here are a few others:

— Bobby Witt Jr., Royals (No. 1 in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings): The No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, Witt started with a flourish, hitting a key double in a win on opening day. At this point, however, the 21-year-old shortstop is batting just .156.

— Julio Rodríguez, Mariners (No. 3): Jarred Kelenic had a difficult debut last year, and Rodríguez, another Seattle outfield prospect, is struggling so far at the plate as well. He’s 4 for 32.

— Spencer Torkelson, Tigers (No. 4): There’s a symbolic passing of the torch in progress in Detroit, with Miguel Cabrera closing in on 3,000 hits while Torkelson shows off his power. The top pick in the 2020 draft has homered twice in his first nine games.

— C.J. Abrams, Padres (No. 9): The injury to Fernando Tatis Jr. gives Abrams an opportunity, but the 21-year-old shortstop is 3 for 26 so far. He did hit his first career homer Thursday.

— Nick Lodolo, Reds (No. 41): The 24-year-old lefty could form a nice partnership with Greene in Cincinnati for years to come. He made his debut Wednesday, allowing five runs in four innings in a start against Cleveland.

— Bryson Stott, Phillies (No. 44): Stott has already started at second, third and shortstop for Philadelphia, but he’s 4 for 26 with just one extra-base hit.

— MacKenzie Gore, Padres (No. 85): The No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, Gore finally made his big league debut Friday, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings against Atlanta. Gore was one of the game’s top prospects, but he struggled at Triple-A last year, and his current MLB Pipeline ranking suggests expectations are more tempered now.

— Matt Brash, Mariners (No. 97): Brash wasn’t selected until the 113th pick of the 2019 draft, but he tore through two levels of the minors last year, then made his Mariners debut this past week without ever pitching in Triple-A. In two starts for Seattle, he went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA, and he earned his first win Sunday against Houston.

— Seiya Suzuki, Cubs: The 27-year-old outfielder is closer to a finished product than a prospect after coming over from Japan, but adjusting to the major leagues isn’t easy. Chicago has to be thrilled with his start — he’s 10 for 25 at the plate with four home runs.

— Steven Kwan, Guardians: The 24-year-old Kwan isn’t in MLB Pipeline’s top 100, but he’s putting himself in the Rookie of the Year discussion early after going 8 for 10 with three walks in his first three games. He’s now hitting .385.

TRIVIA TIME

Who was the last Rookie of the Year whose team won the World Series that same season?

LINE OF THE WEEK

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered three times at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night in Toronto’s 6-4 win over New York. Two of his homers were off Gerrit Cole, who later tipped his cap after Guerrero doubled off him.

COMEBACK OF THE WEEK

The Mets are off to a good start under new manager Buck Showalter, but New York let one get away Monday. The Mets had a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning — and a win probability of 97.3%, according to Statcast — but then Philadelphia scored five runs in the bottom of the inning and won 5-4.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Buster Posey earned National League honors in 2010, the same year his San Francisco Giants won it all.

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Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

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