CINCINNATI -- Reds electric pitching prospect Hunter Greene has never pitched above Class A Dayton and has been out with an injured right elbow since 2018. But he will be part of a big league-like environment in ’20 after he was one of two players added to Cincinnati’s 60-man player pool on Wednesday.
Greene worked out for the first time on Thursday at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the mound, being on the field, been around the guys,” Greene said afterwards. “I missed that camaraderie, that chemistry, our relationships, obviously being on the mound. It’s something I love. It’s something I looked forward to, so I was excited.”
Also joining the pool was catching prospect Mark Kolozsvary, who was at Class A Advanced Daytona last season. The Reds’ player pool now is at 57. In another roster move, utility infielder Alex Blandino was optioned to the alternate training site at Prasco.
Greene, ranked as Cincinnati’s No. 2 prospect and No. 53 overall by MLB Pipeline, could potentially be a callup for the bullpen later this season.
"That definitely would be second on the list of reasons to have him here,” said Reds manager David Bell. “Obviously, we know who he is and with his talents and his injury that he’s gone through. To create a development environment for him to start pitching, competing and all of that is the primary concern -- whether it’s for this year or next year or whatever his timetable is. We just want to provide that for him.”
Greene, 20, hasn’t pitched since he sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow while with Dayton on July 26, 2018. While rehabbing, the right-hander tore the ligament during the following Spring Training and had Tommy John surgery on April 9, 2019.
Though the young pitcher knows it's a long road ahead, he's still aiming for an opportunity to break into the big leagues this season.
“I mean obviously I don’t want to say it’s not possible,” Greene said. “Obviously, I’d love to be with the team, be able to contribute to the team and help the team out. But I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Velocity has been part of Greene’s calling card since his high school years in Southern California. During the 2018 All-Star Futures Game in Washington, all 19 of his pitches registered at 100 mph or faster and his top velocity was 103.1 mph.
Greene has posted photos and video from some of his pitching sessions on social media. One included some time in Scottsdale, Ariz., alongside Reds starting pitcher Trevor Bauer after Spring Training was halted. Bauer was left very impressed.
“I also saw him hit 102 in a 'pen, so the natural ability is just spectacular,” Bauer said on July 6. “There's a reason he was drafted where he was. There's a reason everyone is so high on him. I'm really excited for him to get out there and be able to compete whenever that chance comes for him because I know he's going to be in a better spot. His mechanics have cleaned up drastically. It's a dramatic change, dramatic difference. I think he's actually going to throw harder probably now than he did before. More repeatable, he'll probably recover better and be healthier.”
Overall, Greene has 21 games of professional experience under his belt since he was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. He was 3-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 18 games for Dayton in ’18.
Because the Minor League season was canceled for 2020, Greene didn’t miss as many games as he could have this year.
“In a selfish way, it’s been a good time for me, extra time for me to get right and to work on myself,” Greene said. “Also, with pitch philosophy and the mental side of the game and making sure I’m tapped in there and making sure that I’m healthy, it’s been a great time where I’ve learned to kind of push through some things, face some hurdles and get over them and come out on top. I really maximized my time during this COVID break.”