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Greene taken aback by support at Redsfest

Reds' No. 2 prospect personalizes every autograph for hundreds of fans
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Before he came to Redsfest for the first time on Friday, 18-year-old pitcher and 2017 second overall Draft pick Hunter Greene tried to get as much intel as possible about the event by reading up about it online.

Then Greene went to his autograph station at the Duke Energy Convention Center and the line waiting for him was already at capacity, with several hundred fans. Not too shabby for a guy who is still years away from pitching in the Major Leagues.

CINCINNATI -- Before he came to Redsfest for the first time on Friday, 18-year-old pitcher and 2017 second overall Draft pick Hunter Greene tried to get as much intel as possible about the event by reading up about it online.

Then Greene went to his autograph station at the Duke Energy Convention Center and the line waiting for him was already at capacity, with several hundred fans. Not too shabby for a guy who is still years away from pitching in the Major Leagues.

"I saw it and thought, 'This many people are here to get my autograph?' That was cool," said Greene, the Reds' No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. "It's special and it's nice to see that, for sure."

Greene was one the most sought-after high school players in the country before the Reds selected him, and his polished-beyond-his-years personality has already made him a popular person around baseball. He signed for a $7.23 million bonus with Cincinnati and was able to pitch in three games for Class A rookie-level Billings.

Video: Clark on young African Americans in baseball

Fans already have high expectations. Even before Redsfest, he was asked if he was going to lead the Reds to a World Series. How does a kid handle that?

"Just say you're going to do it. And hopefully you do it," Greene said. "They're really nice. I just did the autograph signing and they were really cool. They're just really appreciative that I'm taking time out of my day and helping people out and making people's day."

Greene's autograph line didn't move particularly quick. In a departure from the usual protocol of mass signing sessions, he personalized each autograph for the fans as he talked with them.

Reds general manager Dick Williams believed the exposure of Greene to the fans -- and vice versa -- is good for everybody.

"I'm glad the fans have someone like Hunter Greene to get excited about," Williams said. "In the baseball Draft, it doesn't always work that way, where you have a flyer that's well-known and kind of has his own celebrity in the Draft. Last year, [2016 No. 2 overall pick] Nick Senzel wasn't a household name. Hunter, because of the Sports Illustrated coverage and all that, really has that celebrity status. It's fun for the fans to see someone they can identify with, relate to and feel like it coming."

Video: Price gives reaction to Reds drafting Greene

Following the whirlwind of his senior year at high school, Draft preparation, signing his contract and his first pro season, Greene enjoyed the chance for his first real offseason downtime. He got a new home in Las Vegas and bought himself a 2018 Mercedes-Benz convertible . Otherwise, he doesn't feel he's changed much.

"I'm the same guy, same family members and friends," he said. "Same ol' thing, just the money, I guess, is different."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cincinnati Reds, Hunter Greene