Why Reds pitcher Hunter Greene can be a star

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Baseball is back in action and there’s plenty to talk about, whether that’s new stars in new locations or how teams can improve before the upcoming season.  

There’s also the wide collection of rising stars looking to prove their worth and potentially grab an Opening Day roster spot for their team. Monday’s game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs featured one of those rising stars, a young right-handed pitcher named Hunter Greene. 

In Monday’s loss to the Cubs, Reds fans got to see a little glimpse of what the 2017 first-round pick could do on the mound. There was certainly much to be impressed by with Greene. Despite a single inning of relief, the 22- year- old demonstrated why scouts gave him a grade of 80 on his fastball with seven pitches reaching at least 100 mph, including a 101 mph pitch that struck out Cubs outfielder Narciso Crook.  

Reds manager David Bell gave the rising star plenty of love in some words following Monday’s game. 

Bell also noted that he believes Greene is ready to make the jump to the big leagues at Great American Ball Park. With everything scouts have seen from the pitcher and the potential of what he can do on the big stage, it’s no surprise that Reds fans could be seeing a new ace in their neck of the woods very soon. 

“He looked like he belongs here,” Bell said. “More importantly, he felt that.” 

It’s been a fairly long journey for the 22-year-old. Greene was selected second overall in the 2017 MLB Draft and was already building his case for a potential leap with an appearance at the Futures Game before needing Tommy John surgery due to a 2018 injury. When he came back, he practically looked just as good as he did before the injury, rising to Triple A after just seven starts with the Chattanooga Lookouts. With such a tough journey to where he is now, it’s no wonder why he’s the No. 1 prospect in Cincinnati’s farm system. 

What separates Greene from his fellow pitchers? You immediately have to point to the rising star’s bread and butter pitch, his fastball. Not only does Greene have great control on the pitch that gives plenty of hitters a hard time, but it also routinely hits triple digit speeds. His own mechanics on his windup and release give a great boost on the acceleration of not just his fastball, but his other pitches. If Greene continues to dominate with that fastball, hitters should be ready for some trouble. 

The key to Greene being able to take the next step is the development of his other pitchers. While he does have an encouraging slider that can reach high-80s speed to mix in with the fastball, he’ll need more to work with. He’s thrown in some sliders and an improving changeup to mix up hitters, but that may not be quite enough. Considering that Greene did have some trouble in Triple A where he went 5-8 with a 4.13 ERA and experienced hitters were able to hit well off him. Some more development on his other pitches could be just what he needs to take the next step into the pitcher that the Reds need him to be. 

Still, Cincinnati may not have a choice to bring up Greene. Their pitching rotation does not exactly jump off the page with a clear-cut set of talent. The team just traded away Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins and have some holes to fill in their rotation. 

Could Greene be that guy? It’s definitely possible in 2022 and with some Spring Training starts up ahead for the young arm, he’ll have some more chances to prove what he can bring to the table over more than an inning.  

Regardless of what happens with Greene, he undoubtedly has the potential to make some noise on the mound if he plays his cards right. He has the tools and mechanics to fool hitters and grab plenty of strikeouts in the big leagues. He’s a special talent that can be a star. 

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