GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Hunter Greene is going to the Major Leagues.
The Reds' top-ranked prospect was told he made the club’s rotation by manager David Bell on Tuesday and the club announced its decision on Wednesday. Greene, who is ranked as MLB Pipeline's No. 22 overall prospect, is scheduled to pitch on Sunday, April 10, in a four-game series finale vs. the Braves.
“Oh man, I’m still at a loss for words,” Greene said. “I knew yesterday, but I had to keep it on the down low, which was tough. I told my family and a couple of friends. But man, like everybody says, it’s what I’ve been waiting for. A lot of work went into this.”
The rotation was also revealed, with previously announced Opening Day starter Tyler Mahle going on April 7, followed by Reiver Sanmartin and Vladimir Gutierrez facing the Braves in that first series.
After an off-day on April 11, Mahle is scheduled to return and start the home opener vs. the Guardians on April 12. Nick Lodolo, Cincinnati’s No. 2-ranked prospect, is a candidate to pitch on April 13 vs. Cleveland, but he's not officially in the rotation.
“That joy definitely came out of Hunter when I told him,” Bell said of his conversation with Greene. “Then it was immediately back on task -- him thinking about what he needs to do to get ready for game four in Atlanta, which was great. It was the perfect response in my opinion. It’s no surprise that Hunter handled it that way.”
Greene kept himself balanced during the conversation, but the emotions eventually came out.
“I didn’t cry when David told me, but I did cry when I called my parents,” said Greene, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 Draft. “Very special moment. A lot of hard work put in. A lot of sacrifices. I cried when I called them and they cried. My pops called me this morning and he’s still crying. Just a beautiful moment to share as a family. I wish they were here, but it’s all good. I feel like they’re always with me.”
The 22-year-old Greene, whose fastball has been clocked at 104 mph, went 10-8 with a 3.30 ERA and 139 strikeouts over 106 1/3 innings last season with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. He had missed the previous 2 1/2 years due to having Tommy John surgery and the pandemic canceling the 2020 Minor League season.
“He really pitched well in Double-A last season, got up and a little tired at the end of the year,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “It’s exciting to see him progress, use three pitches and get quality outs. I’m really excited to see what he can do in the big leagues.”
The time away from pitching competitively only strengthened Greene’s resolve to reach the big leagues.
“Oh man, so many obstacles, so many ups and downs,” Greene said. “This won’t be the last time you go through things and face adversity. That’s life, too. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons through this game so far. It hasn’t been a long time, but I had to grow up pretty quick with some things. I think it’s going to set me up perfect for the future and what I’ll be going through and how I’ll be able to come out on top.”
In two games (one start) this spring, Greene has three scoreless innings with five hits, no walks and three strikeouts. He is scheduled to start on Thursday vs. the White Sox.
During his previous start, on Saturday vs. the Giants, Greene reached 102 mph multiple times but impressed as well with his changeup.
Greene was also excited to be facing the defending World Series champions his first time out.
“Hey, I’ve been challenged all my life. I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Whatever happens, happens, but I am going to go out there and compete, do the best for my team and represent for myself, my family and the Reds.”
If he remains on schedule, Greene’s second start will have him pitching in his hometown of Los Angeles against the Dodgers, likely either April 16 or 17.
With Greene, and potentially Lodolo, the Reds are showing no apprehension about moving up their top prospects to the big leagues.
“If a player is ready, they’re ready,” Krall said. “Young players will come up and sometimes they’ll fail and sometimes they’ll succeed. You don’t know what you’re getting right out of the chute. That’s something where we’ve got to be prepared for him to come up and see what happens. I want to make sure we give our team every opportunity to win as opposed to keeping a guy down in the Minors.”