Showcase | Story | 6/16/2016

Field of Greene at PG National

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Joy Absalon

Also see: Shane Baz feature

FORT MYERS, Fla. – While the majority of the class of 2017 top prospects in attendance at this week’s 16th annual Perfect Game National Showcase at jetBlue Park spent last summer playing for their respective travel ball teams, Southern California two-way standout Hunter Greene took a more global approach.

Greene, a 6-foot-4, 197-pound, right-handed pitcher and infielder from Stevenson Ranch, Calif., who will be a very young senior at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., in the fall, spent the summer of 2015 doing everything necessary to become the youngest member of USA Baseball 18u National Team. He was successful in that endeavor and became the first 16-year-old to play for the 18u National Team since 2011 PG National Showcase alumnus Albert Almora – now with the Chicago Cubs – suited-up at the age of 16 in 2010.

So here he is again, a truly elite baseball player who won’t celebrate his 17th birthday until Aug. 6, hanging around with a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds at the grandest and most heavily scouted showcase event for rising seniors in all of amateur baseball. And yet for Greene, it almost seems like old-home week.

“It’s interesting because I came out here and I’m familiar with all the guys that I’ve played with in other events, such as USA (Baseball) events and high school baseball and traveling the country and just playing with each other; it’s a great environment, for sure,” Greene told PG Thursday morning. “Just coming out and doing my thing and everyone else doing their thing and playing the best that they can, it’s just a lot of fun. I loved this event, this was great.”

Greene performed at the PG National on Wednesday, and immediately got the attention of every MLB scout, college coach and recruiting coordinator (he is uncommitted) and any other form of talent evaluator in attendance. PG’s scouts raved about both his prowess at the plate during a batting practice session and the dominance he showed on the mound.

About his hitting, they wrote: Hunter Greene has such an easy right-handed swing that he made one of the most difficult things to do in sports look stunningly easy. He drove 4-5 balls completely out of Fenway South (jetBlue Park) and made it look effortless in the process.”

About his pitching, they wrote: Hunter Greene is an ultra-lean, projectable player who stood out with the bat in batting practice and pitched in the game. (He) worked a clean first inning with a pair of strikeouts, easy velocity at 92-94/95 with wiggle, as well as a hard slider that projected well.”

It is that two-way versatility that scouts and recruiters find most tantalizing and the thing that makes the game of baseball so much fun for the personable Greene.

“To be able to play shortstop, third base or second base and then to go on the mound and pitch, it’s great because it keeps my athleticism on the mound,” he said. “I love swinging the bat – everyone likes hitting – so that’s always a lot of fun. But playing the infield is great and I love making great plays, especially in high school.”

It’s far too early to make any sort of definitive statement as to which position Greene will ultimately call home, but to hear him talk – and despite his declaration about loving to hit – he sure seems to know what he’s talking about when asked to give his own scouting report in regard to his repertoire of pitches:

“With the fastball, I have a four-seam and a two-seam, and it’s funny because my four-seam sometimes moves like my two-seam. I have a lot of tail and run on the ball and I’ll sit about 95-97 (mph) with my fastball. My slider, I’m about 78 to 81, and my slider is horizontal. My curveball is kind of up-and-down, I’d say it’s a 1 to 6 instead of a 12-6. My changeup is about 85-86 miles-per-hour and it bites at the end.”

Greene is one of a growing number of young baseball players from Southern California that got his start in the game as a 7-year-old playing at the Urban Youth League Academy in Compton. He has continued to visit the Academy on a regular basis, even as he entered Notre Dame HS.

Notre Dame is a CIF Southern Section Division 1 (largest enrollment) school and a member of the rugged Mission Baseball League; that’s the league that also includes traditional Southern Section powers like Chaminade, Harvard-Westlake, Loyola, Alemany and Crespi.

This year’s Knights team under the direction of head coach Tim Dill finished 19-11 (10-8 Mission League) with the junior Greene playing a pretty big role in their success. At the plate, he slashed .419/.487/.763 with 18 of his 39 hits going for extra bases (5 HRs, 4 3Bs, 9 2Bs) and 20 RBI and 20 runs scored. On the mound he was 5-3 with a 1.63 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings pitched.

“I love Notre Dame and that coaching staff has been great to me,” Greene said. “We play in the Mission League which I would say is the number-one or number-two league in California; it’s very competitive. I love playing for Notre Dame and every team in the league is a great school academic-wise. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Hunter Greene is the son of Russell and Senta Greene; Russell is a private investigator Senta is an educational consultant. Both parents play a pivotal role in young Hunter’s life.

“My dad has come out to just about every event; I don’t think he’s missed a day of baseball,” Hunter said. “I love him so much and he’s really helped me through all these years of baseball, and it’s just really been amazing how he comes out and supports me and talks me through different situations.

“My mom provides everything, as well,” he continued. “She’s an educational consultant and she helps me with school and she also helps me if I ever need anything: food, drinks, love. My mom and my dad have done an amazing job with me and I love them a lot.”

If everything follows its projected path, Hunter Greene’s name should figure prominently in any discussion about the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft. He watched this year’s draft with more interest than usual and was thrilled when his USA Baseball 18u teammate and fellow Southern Californian Mickey Moniak was taken with the first overall pick. Greene and Moniak helped Team USA win its third straight 18u World Cup Championship with the finals played in Japan.

“I’m good friends with Mickey and we played on the USA team together, and that was amazing to see him go first overall – and see all those guys that I played with go so high in the draft and be able to fulfill their dreams,” Greene said. “Hopefully they stay healthy and they’re able to do their thing and eventually make it to the big leagues.

“It would be such a great experience to go that high and do so well and be able to go to the next level and really perform like I can.

National Showcase Day 2 Standouts

Here are a few of the players that stood out on Day 2 of the 2016 PG National Showcase. To view the workout results and read more about the participating players in the scout blogs please click on the links supplied below.

Workout Results | Scout Blogs | Day 1 Standouts

There’s strength, then there’s the type of strength Alabama State commit Oraj Anu put on display on Thursday at the National Showcase. And not only did he show above average raw power with plus bat speed from the left side of the plate, he did so from the righthanded batter’s box as well. The sheer athleticism is evident in watching Anu run as he posted a 6.53 60-yard dash time despite being listed at 6-foot-3, 210-pounds. And then when he gets into the box he gets busy launching balls 400-plus feet lefthanded before switching over, going deep twice on back-to-back swings from the right side.

Speaking of being amazed at plus raw power, Nick Storz (a primary righthanded pitcher) put on an absolute showing during batting practice and very much made his stance clear on whether pitchers should be allowed in the MLB Home Run Derby. Of course the LSU commitment isn’t your typical 17-year-old as he’s 6-foot-6, 245-pounds and the juice he possesses isn’t normal either, as he made jetBlue Park look small on Thursday evening and did so with relative ease. It was the type of round that scouts just watched in awe without taking notes for fear of missing another moonshot.

Both Johnathan Rodriguez (16 years and 7 months) and Christian Robinson (16 years and 6 months) are perhaps the two youngest players in the 2017 draft eligible class and will both be roughly just 17 and a half come next June. Another thing they have in common is the advanced strength they showed in their swings during batting practice. Each of them are physical specimens and it plays very well as Rodriguez cleared the Green Monster in near dead center field while Robinson showed just as much intriguing power from the left side, back spinning line drives 400 feet much easier than your typical 16-year-old.

Chad Bryant, a Mississippi State recruit, showed the biggest velocity of the day running his fastball up to 94 mph and did so rather easily with a quick right arm and a power 6-foot build. He did a nice job of incorporating his lower half into the release and was able to overpower balls downhill with occasional cutting life and command to either side of the plate.

Je’Von Carrier-Ward has long been on the prospect scene and made his rounds last summer, although in this most recent look it appears as though he’s filled out his 6-foot-5 frame some, and while there’s still plenty more room to go, the added mass is already paying dividends. Carrier-Ward put on a nice display during his round of hitting and his live swings have been just as impressive, even the swings that haven’t fallen for base hits. As an example he did a nice job of flicking his wrists on an outer-half fastball that he sent to the wall for a loud F-8, jumping off the barrel at 93 mph before singling back up the box in his next at-bat.

A University of Miami commit, Robert Touron came out attacking the strike zone with a deceptive, fast and near sidearm slot that helped produce a fastball that lived comfortably in the 90-93 mph range with short sinking life. On top of the heater, with which he was able to elevate and miss bats with, the 6-foot-2 Touron flashed a sharp slider up to 76 mph, an offering that could very well serve as an out pitch at the next level.

Serving as your daily reminder, Brady McConnell, Noah Campbell and Tyler Freeman can find the barrel and they did so once again, with strength, as each connected for exit speeds that jumped off at 90-plus mph. McConnell has been arguably the most consistent hitter through the first group, not only in batting practice but also in game with barreled contact occurring more often than not.

There have been plenty of impressive middle infielders to this point of the National Showcase, one of whom is Ricardo De La Torre of Puerto Rico. After impressing last fall at the PG Caribbean Showcase there was plenty of anticipation built for De La Torre this time around and he certainly didn’t disappoint as he ran a 6.73 60-yard, showed silky smooth actions at shortstop with big time arm strength (94 mph across) and then proceeded to take a very loud round of batting practice, ending with a home run just as he did in Puerto Rico last fall.

Certainly an imposing presence on the mound from a physical standpoint, righthanded pitcher Blake Beers was equally impressive in terms of performance. At 6-foot-5, 215-pounds, he's very strong throughout and still projects some physically, and with above average arm speed projects to throw harder as well. He worked at 89-92 mph over his two innings, with good plane from his high three-quarters slot and life to the arm side as well. He also shows good feel to spin his curveball, with solid depth and overall shape on the offering.

From the other side of the mound, lefthander Jacob Heatherly was impressive both in terms of present performance and projection as well. With good strength throughout, he's able to generate a good amount of force to the plate and worked his fastball in the 88-92 mph range with heavy life down in the zone. He also showed feel for a variety of off-speed pitches. His slider was sharp with good horizontal action, he has feel to spin a more traditional curveball and he flashed the ability to turn over a changeup as well.

As far as the best defensive performance of the day, that distinction belongs to shortstop Matthew Golda. With easy plus hands and quick-twitch athleticism, Golda moves effortlessly side-to-side and fields the ball so quickly and so cleanly that you'd think it was already in his hand. The exchange is lightning quick and the arm strength is solid, leaving him to profile extremely well on the left side of the infield for a long time to come.

There were several loud BP's taken on the day, but one of the more impressive overall was outfielder Daniel Cabrera. With lots of bat speed generated from loose, elastic hands and strong wrists, Cabrera was successful at driving the ball consistently throughout his round, and the lift he creates allows that bat speed and strength to play up into home run power. His body still projects to put on strength, and he could end up profiling as a power-hitting corner outfielder in time.

Steven Williams was very impressive across several facets of the game. He's a big, strong and physical prospect who did well both in the outfield and behind the plate. He profiles well in right field with surprising athleticism and plus arm strength. He brings that same athleticism and arm strength with him behind the dish where he displays good fundamental footwork, a quick and clean release and the ability to pop sub 2.0's consistently. He also took an extremely loud batting practice, with lots of separation and strength, creating plus raw power and tons of strength off the barrel.

Tim Elko took a very professional but still very impressive round of batting practice, and shows natural feel to hit with solid present power and power projection. He has advanced bat speed with good leverage at contact, and peppered rising line drives to all fields with high-level barrel control. He's a big, strong prospect with plenty of power and projects well for both average and power at the next level.

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