SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred put a new Reds jersey on No. 2 overall pick Hunter Greene on Monday night at Day 1 of the MLB Draft, calling the presence of attendee players like the 17-year-old sensation "the best part of the night" and adding that it would be
SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred put a new Reds jersey on No. 2 overall pick Hunter Greene on Monday night at Day 1 of the MLB Draft, calling the presence of attendee players like the 17-year-old sensation "the best part of the night" and adding that it would be a "great thing for the game" if Greene is able to reach the Majors both as a pitcher and a position player.
Manfred read the first-round (and Competitive Balance Round A) selections for the third year in a row amidst a Studio 42 room that included 18 former All-Stars among the club representatives working the phones. In addition to Greene, there were three other Draft prospects on hand: outfielder/pitcher Jo Adell went No. 10 to the Angels, pitcher Trevor Rogers went No. 13 to the Marlins and outfielder Bubba Thompson was the No. 26 pick by Texas.
"The best part of the night is when we have young men here that get picked -- the excitement you feel," Manfred said.
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Later on, Manfred added: "You hear a lot of talk from various constituencies in the game about marketing players, but it starts here tonight. Anybody who represents a player who's not here tonight is making a mistake."
Greene, from Notre Dame High in California, is a legitimate prospect as both a pitcher and shortstop, and Manfred said he hopes Greene has the chance to develop both ways. The Reds have said they will give him a chance to hit and pitch as he begins his pro career, though most believe his future is ultimately on the mound.
"Any story in our game that is something out of the ordinary attracts great attention, and obviously that would be an unbelievable feat in terms of being able to pitch and then play as a position player," Manfred said. "I think it's one of the reasons people are so fascinated with [Japanese pitcher Shohei] Ohtani."
The Commissioner also said Greene's background with the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., was an example of the increasing productivity by MLB's programs to help increase diversity among Draft picks. In fact, Manfred did his customary chat with media between first-round picks, and after going to read a pick and then returning, he added, "We just had an Elite Development Program alum from Puerto Rico selected with the last pick." That was outfielder Heliot Ramos, selected 19th overall by the Giants.
"We do believe we are seeing a lot more productivity," Manfred said. "Prior to this year, about 20 percent of our first-rounders were African-American, and those academies have been built in communities largely African-American. Almost all of those kids had some touch with one of our Academy programs or with the Elite Development Invitational, and we believe that the bigger we make those programs, the more diversity we will attract to the game."
Greene has the potential to be a big-impact player not just for the Reds, but also for Major League Baseball. That fact was not lost on Manfred, who champions the Play Ball initiative.
"It's huge for our game," Manfred said. "Great young man, great presence, great player, prepared to be a model for other people, but we also take a lot of pride in the fact that he was involved with the programs at the Compton academy."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
• Manfred gave a special shout-out to Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda before reading the first pick. Lasorda is a regular among club reps at the Draft but is rebounding from a recent surgery.
• In the most moving part of the night, Manfred allowed 11-year-old Landis Sims to do the honors of reading the Yankees' first-round selection (Clarke Schmidt), followed by a standing ovation. Sims was born without hands or feet, but enjoys baseball with prosthetics. Manfred also invited two boys from the Make-A-Wish program to be in the audience.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. Follow him @Marathoner and read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com/blogs hub.