Greene outduels Meyer in clash of top prospects

June 12th, 2021

If you were part of the limited capacity sellout crowd at AT&T Field in Chattanooga on Friday night, you may want to keep your ticket stub to prove you witnessed a duel between two of the best pitching prospects Minor League baseball has to offer.

Chattanooga’s Hunter Greene, MLB Pipeline’s No. 57 prospect, outshined Pensacola’s Max Meyer, Pipeline’s No. 22 prospect, in a 1-0 faceoff that resulted in a Lookout victory.

The Reds’ No. 2 prospect’s 80-grade fastball touched 102 MPH as he tossed six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and allowed two hits on four walks. The flamethrower registered 15 swinging strikes with his fastball, slider, cutter, changeup arsenal and threw 67 of his 106 pitches for strikes.

“The main focus is to being able to continue to work on my secondary pitches. Being able to trust the changeup and throw that more often,” said Greene. “The slider, continue to perfect that and be able to throw that in any count and any situation because if I’m able to execute those pitches, the fastball is going to play that much better. It’ll look faster and I’m going to be able to move it around a lot more.”

After Peyton Burdick’s ground-ball single with one out in the third inning, Greene did not allow another hit for the duration of his outing. The second overall pick in the 2018 Draft has now gone at least five innings in all seven of his starts this year, a number he had reached just six times in 21 games prior to the 2021 season. Greene has also struck out at least seven batters in each start he has made this year.

“You got to show the manager, you got to show the team that one, you’re healthy and two, you’re not taking pitches off,” said Greene. “Once you take pitches off, that’s when these guys are going to capitalize and the momentum’s going to shift into their hands.”

Meyer tossed five shutout innings in a no-decision while sharing the bump with Greene, tacking on two punchouts to go with four hits and four walks. While the Marlins' No. 3 prospect did not have his best stuff or command Friday night, he battled through 82 pitches and held Chattanooga scoreless until he passed the ball off to Pensacola’s bullpen.

“He went out there and did his thing as well. I didn’t know much about him coming into the game, but it’s always fun to go against guys that are up there on the radar as well,” said Greene. “Definitely brings more out of you to show that you’re that guy out there. I saw him after the game today, I told him to keep going, stay healthy, keep doing his thing and good luck.”

On the season, Greene has been one of the most dominant pitchers across all levels of the Minors. The 6-foot-5 righty is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.98 over 41 innings. He leads all of the Minor Leagues in strikeouts with 60 K's and owns a K/9 of 13.2 while limiting opposing hitters to a .186 batting average.

“In the offseason with putting the work in, having more intent in my bullpen [sessions], I think that’s the biggest thing for me and where I can say my success comes from this year,” said Greene. “In Spring Training, in every bullpen [session] I threw, I put a stand in hitter in just to see a batter in the box and what I wanted to execute in my pitches, I’m trying to bring that into the game.”

The Reds have been cautious with Greene in the past, as he has an extremely live arm that has already undergone one Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2019 and has not pitched close to a full workload since 2018. As he has begun to stretch himself out with consistently longer outings, Greene has seen the best results of his career. MLB Pipeline projects the 21-year-old to reach the Majors next season, and with his current trajectory, he may toe the slab at Great American Ballpark sooner than expected.