The Cincinnati Reds have a significant amount of young minor league talent. Twenty-year-old right-handed pitcher Hunter Greene is Cincinnati’s 2nd best prospect, right behind pitcher Nick Lodolo. An in-depth overview of Lodolo can be found here.
Greene has always been advanced for his age. In 2008, he began training at the MLB Urban Youth Academy at the age of eight. He was a part of the United States Under-18 Team in 2015 that won the gold medal at the Baseball World Cup.
Greene attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California where he stood out amongst his competition. He finished high school baseball with a 1.62 ERA, including a 0.75 ERA his senior year. In addition, he also played shortstop and batted .324 in his four years. At the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, Greene won the Junior Home Run Derby.
Minor League Report
Greene was drafted out of high school with the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. He decommitted from UCLA when the Reds gave him a $7.23 million signing bonus.
Greene began his professional at the rookie-level with the Billings Mustangs. In his limited time, he pitched 4 1/3 innings and batted 7-for-30 as a designated hitter. In 2018, he spent all of the season with the Class-A Dayton Dragons where he only pitched. After 68 1/3 innings, his season ended prematurely due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his pitching elbow. During a rehab stint in early 2019, he further damaged his UCL and was required to undergo Tommy John Surgery.
Greene is one of the most talented prospects in recent years. MLB Pipeline has him at number 53 on the top 100 prospects list. The reason he isn’t as high as Gore or McKay is his injury concerns. While Gore and McKay were developing their talent, Greene has yet to pitch a full season in the minors. He hasn’t appeared in a game since 2018 before going under the knife.
He has been throwing over 100 mph since high school and it is hard for MLB starters to have a long and healthy career with that much wear on their elbow.
Hunter Greene has a powerful fastball that hovers around 100 mph. MLB Pipeline’s scout rating scale rates his fastball a perfect 80. In addition, his slider is strong and has a chance of being a go-to strikeout pitch. He also has a changeup to complement these two pitches. Greene has great control of his pitches due to having a very consistent approach and delivery of his pitches.
No one questions Greene’s immense amount of raw talent and power. However, there are still many concerns about his ability to be a sustainable pitcher in the major league. He hasn’t had much minor league experience due to receiving Tommy John Surgery, so he likely won’t see the big leagues until at least 2022.
Recently, according to Doug Gray of redsminorleagues.com, Greene has altered his mechanics in the way he delivers the ball during his rehab sessions. He has shortened the path that his arm travels by not locking his arm in a straight line before starting his forward throwing motion. Hopefully, this will lessen the stress on his pitching elbow to prevent more future injuries.
Then, there is the concern that his new mechanics and recent injury may not allow him to gain his full power and control of his fastball back. This is always a concern with pitchers who undergo major surgery on their throwing arm, but many do recover and regain their power.
Good news, Hunter Greene is only 20, and the Reds will not rush him back. They will closely monitor his usage as he returns to the mound in 2020 and continues to develop his raw talent that showed why he is the best pitcher in the 2017 draft class. If he can stay healthy, he can be a future high-end starter for the Reds.
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