Greene turns up the heat with 10 K's

August 6th, 2021

If there's a snapshot of what a dominant start looks like, the Reds' Hunter Greene provided one on Thursday night.

MLB's No. 53 overall prospect was nearly unhittable, fanning 10 over 6 1/3 one-hit innings as Triple-A Louisville edged St. Paul, 1-0, at CHS Field. Featuring his usual triple-digit heat, Greene notched his third double-digit strikeout game of the season and first since his promotion to the Bats on June 15.

Louisville pitching coach Seth Etherton could see this type of performance coming.

"My whole mission with Hunter is to make him make hitters as uncomfortable as possible," Etherton said. "He's embraced that and he's feeling it. Tonight was probably the best pitching performance I've seen [in his three years working with him] in terms of knowing when to throw certain pitches. His changeup has really developed and he's starting to tighten up his breaking ball. He's really becoming a pitcher now."

The 22-year-old served notice it would indeed be a "Happy Hunter Greene Day," fanning two in the first inning and three of the first four batters he faced. Greene worked around his lone walk and a stolen base in the second and did not allow a hit until Nick Gordon led off the fourth with a single. The flamethrower immediately induced a double-play grounder and ended the frame with a strikeout. That kicked off a stretch of six punchouts in nine batters, punctuated by his 10th on his 80th and final pitch in the seventh to ensure his third scoreless effort in nine appearances with Louisville.

"Everyone knows who he is," Etherton said. "He's going to bring that hard fastball, but hitters adapt and he needs to as well. He's facing true professionals at this level. Major League hitters with Major League experience. We're getting him to pitch inside more and he knows he needs to do it. His control is excellent and he's always been able to go in and out, but going up and in is something new for him. That's a must at this stage to keep hitters uncomfortable in the box."

The performance continued a run of successful starts for Greene, who has posted a 1.98 ERA in his last five starts after sporting a 6.23 mark in his first four Triple-A outings. Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect has fanned 37 over 27 1/3 innings during his hot streak, which has sliced his ERA with the Bats to 3.63.

While the second overall pick in the 2017 Draft went through an adjustment period after his promotion in June, he continued to generate swings and misses. After whiffing an astronomical 37 percent of hitters with Double-A Chattanooga, Greene's rate has fallen only slightly, to a still elite 32.2 percent with Louisville.

"We've gotten him back on a throwing program that is more beneficial to his needs," Etherton said. "He's being a little more aggressive during the week and with him knowing who he is and what he needs to do, it's paying off for him."

Overall, the Southern California native is 8-5 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while limiting opposing batters to a .206 average through 16 starts. Even with a few bumps along the way, Greene is becoming the pitcher Etherton and the Reds envisioned.

"I want to see him keep doing what he’s doing," Etherton said. "I want to see more use of his changeup. He needs to master that pitch but it has come a long way. He needs to keep pounding fastballs in and keep learning. Hunter always asks questions and always wants to know more. I can't give him enough credit."