COMPTON, Calif. -- Reds prospect Hunter Greene began playing organized baseball at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton when he was 7 years old. He's been giving back to his community for nearly as long.According to Henry Brandon, who helped coach Greene's youth travel team, it's always been in Greene's
COMPTON, Calif. -- Reds prospect Hunter Greene began playing organized baseball at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton when he was 7 years old. He's been giving back to his community for nearly as long.
According to Henry Brandon, who helped coach Greene's youth travel team, it's always been in Greene's nature to help others. For instance, when Greene was 12 years old, he could often be found helping the 10-year-old ballplayers with their drills, offering whatever insight and guidance he could.
That spirit of giving is what inspired the second annual Hunter Greene Baseball Fest. Nearly 150 campers, from 8 to 14 years old, gathered on Sunday afternoon to take part in a free clinic hosted by Greene at the field of his youth. Participants received catching, pitching, hitting and baserunning instruction from an assortment of coaches and players, including several former and current professionals.
In addition to the drills and instruction, the clinic featured throwing and hitting skills competitions, from which five winners were selected to join Greene on a $500 shopping spree at Adidas. Those winners also received special gloves designed as a collaboration between Greene and Steelo Sports, a company that describes itself as the first and only modern-day, black-owned baseball glove brand.
"I always wanted to give back as soon as I could," Greene said. "Once I got the platform to do that and the experience and the connections with other players and coaches coming out to help me, I jumped on it real fast."
Greene, 19, is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Reds' system and the No. 22 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.
Darrell Miller, vice president of baseball and softball development for Major League Baseball Youth Programs, was the director of the Compton academy when Greene played there. Miller spoke to the importance of having players like Greene return to the Youth Academy.
"Having Hunter come back and all the other guys that are here instructing with him that have come through the Academy, it means a lot to the kids who'll know and understand that this is the place to be," Miller said. "This is the place where they're going to get great mentorship and great coaching."
Among the Minor Leaguers who showed up to assist Greene was Angels No. 1 prospect Jo Adell, ranked the No. 15 prospect in baseball. Adell, a longtime friend of Greene's, made the trip to Southern California all the way from Louisville just for the clinic. He called the decision to come out "a no-brainer," in part because Greene came out to Louisville last fall to help with Adell's own clinic.
"We come from similar-minded families," Adell said. "They expect the best from us, and they're both big on community. Hunter has always gotten that. He understands that where he came from is the most important thing. He wouldn't be where he was without the people around this area."
Brewers outfield prospect Je'Von Ward and Rays first-base prospect Devin Davis, both of whom got their start playing at the MLB Youth Academy in Compton, were also instructors at the clinic. Ward recognized the significance of their participation.
"You never know when one of these kids will be in the same position as you," said Ward, the No. 25 prospect in Milwaukee's system. "We're closer in age to some of these kids, so they can look ahead, like, 'I could do that in a few years.'"
When addressing the campers, Greene emphasized the importance of listening as a way of learning and growing, both as a person and as a player. He also drove home the equal importance of choices made both on and off the field.
"Yes, you want to be able to perform on the field for the club," Greene said. "But the expectations are just as high off the field. … You represent the team, and they're building a franchise around you, and they're trying to win a World Series, so they're picking the best players -- but most importantly, the best people out there -- to be Major League citizens."
Sarah Wexler is a reporter for MLB.com based in Southern California.