Pipeline Rewind: Reds' Greene analyzes debut
DAYTON, Ohio -- On Monday, Hunter Greene made his 2018 and full-season debut for the Class A Dayton Dragons, facing the Lake County Captains in Midwest League action. MLB Pipeline's No. 21 prospect, Greene was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 Draft and is the Reds' No. 2 prospect.
Working in cold temperatures (39 degrees at game time) and on a strict pitch count (40-60 pitches), Greene impressed, nevertheless, striking out eight in his three innings of work while touching triple digits with his fastball on several occasions. It was also apparent that the 18-year-old has some room for improvement, as he gave up five hits and two runs along the way.
On Tuesday, Greene sat down with us to watch his outing and provide some first-person insight and analysis.
Greene came out firing on all cylinders with three straight 100-mph fastballs, and he struck out the first batter he faced, Jorma Rodriguez, on a breaking ball (a sign of things to come). But he got into trouble when he gave up two singles, including a fastball squared up by Will Benson, and a two-out double by Austen Wade that scored two runs. But Greene came back to strike out Tyler Friis on high heat to end the inning.
"My out pitch, I love to throw sliders," Greene said. "I just gave it away, I guess, if guys are watching. Now you know. That's my out pitch. I was fully committed to it. I was trying to go to the outside corner. I missed it, but I guess it had enough break where it still fooled him a little bit."
"That's something I'm going to continue to work on and get better at," Greene said of the high fastball. "That's what I really want to work on next, knowing how to elevate, throwing high and inside, middle up, just changing the eye level of the hitters. I know as a hitter myself, that's really hard, to see a pitch at the knees get called a strike, then a ball that comes up neck height or eye height, it's pretty hard to hit."
Baseball is a game of adjustments, and Greene certainly made some before coming out for his second inning. He made quick work of Lake County's 7-8-9 hittters, getting weak contact for the first out then striking out the next two. After Greene's fastball was a little straight, and thus more hittable, in the first inning, he used a much livelier heater, burying one down in the zone to fan Michael Rivera.
"The angle of my fastball was pretty flat the first inning," Greene said. "I think I was falling a bit too forward instead of stacking on my back side and getting more movement. I definitely made that adjustment that second and third inning. I kind of slowed things down a little bit. I think I was a little pumped up in the first inning, a little too much. I had to take a breath, step off the mound and know what I was going to throw in certain counts."
Greene got into trouble in his final frame, giving up a pair of singles to start the inning and then uncorking a wild pitch, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But then he got three straight swinging strikeouts on breaking balls, including getting Benson, who had singled off of him in the first, and Wade, who had the two-run double. Greene showed his competitive edge, and some emotion, in pitching out of this jam.
"Focus on the glove and be able to pound it and be consistent," Greene said about his mindset with two runners in scoring position and nobody out. "I wasn't going to let these guys score with second and third. I was going to keep the game tied and have the confidence my team was going to come back and hit for me."