Prospect Retrospective: Tyler Greene, INF, St. Louis Cardinals
He's not a rookie or a prospect, but I want to take a look at St. Louis Cardinals infielder Tyler Greene, who raised some eyebrows by hitting a home run on a 101 MPH fastball off of Andrew Cashner Monday.
What was Greene like as a prospect?
Tyler Greene played college ball at Georgia Tech, starting as a freshman in 2003. He was outstanding at times and demonstrated a potent power/speed combination, but he was also inconsistent. He hit just .273 in his sophomore year and fanned 68 times in 64 games, but he improved as a junior, hitting .372 with 12 homers and stealing 31 bases in 32 attempts, although he continued to strike out at a robust clip (71 whiffs in 61 games).
Despite his inconsistency, scouts liked his athleticism and the Cardinals drafted him in the first round, 30th overall. He slugged 15 homers and went 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts in 57 games the Midwest League in 2006, but struggled after being promoted to the Florida State League, hitting just .224 and striking out 90 times in 71 games. A knee injury limited him to 65 games in Double-A in 2007, resulting in a .244/.309/.448 line. Healthy in 2008, he hit .259/.307/.449 in 97 games of Double-A, but couldn't handle a promotion to Triple-A effectively, hitting just .234/.325/.297 in 30 games.
Greene made some adjustments in a return engagement to Triple-A in 2009, hitting .291/.369/.482 with 15 homers and 31 steals in 89 games, and got his K-rate below once per game. Greene bounced between the Cardinals bench and Triple-A in '10 and ‘11, He's solidified his hold on a job this spring, hitting .253/.322/.494 thus far in 79 at-bats, still struggling with strikeouts (23 already) but showing unusual power for a middle infielder. Overall, in 179 games split over four major league seasons, Greene is hitting .225/.310/.349 with 18 doubles, nine homers, 37 walks, and 110 strikeouts in 395 at-bats. He is an extremely skilled basestealer, swiping 20 in 21 career attempts.
Greene's athleticism has never been in question, and he has a great throwing arm to go with the speed and power. He's defensively versatile, capable of playing every position except catcher, and playing them well. It has always been an issue of making sufficient contact at the plate, and that's been the knock on him since he was a college freshman.
Given the totality of his track record, Greene isn't a guy who is going to win batting titles, hit much above .240, or post a strong OBP on any consistent basis. However, Greene can still do a lot of things to help his team win, and it would not surprise me to see him have an "out of nowhere" season when everything clicks. That could very well be this year.