With the opening of the college and high school baseball campaigns, the 2017 MLB draft season has begun in earnest. Right now the top talent according to virtually everyone is Hunter Greene, a right-handed pitcher and shortstop from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California.
Greene has been on the radar for years: he’s an excellent prospect as both a hitter and pitcher. He would be a first-round candidate as a shortstop, but his mound work is so enticing that he could be the first high school right-handed pitcher ever taken first-overall in the draft.
Is PG correct? Let’s take a look.
Greene is listed at 6-4, 195, born August 6th, 1999. He will be 17 years old on draft day, making him one of the youngest players available in the high school class. He has a long track record with scouts, beginning with the Urban Youth Academy then becoming a fixture in travel ball and for Team USA.
He is committed to UCLA for college but is considered signable if he is drafted where his talent warrants.
Where his talent warrants is very high indeed.
Greene already has 93-98 MPH fastball, the pitch earning 70 grades due to the combination of velocity and movement. He generates the heat with little effort and given his youth and build, even more velocity is possible as he matures. He already has a plus curveball and commands it better than most pitchers his age. His change-up is not as refined as the first two pitches but should be at least MLB average in time and very possibly plus.
With proper development he projects three plus pitches with impressive command, making him a top-of-the-rotation arm. Add in the intangibles and comparisons to Dwight Gooden or even Bob Gibson are not out of bounds if you want to dream and don’t believe in jinxes.
Greene is also a top prospect as a hitter with 55 or 60 power and at least average pure hitting ability. His weakest tool is running speed but despite that he has the tools needed to be an above-average defensive shortstop, including the requisite instincts and quickness. If he outgrew shortstop he would look excellent at third base or right field.
His makeup and work ethic are considered very strong. His combination of intangibles, athleticism, present skill, and future projectability gives him the upside of an All-Star as either a pitcher or position player, though for most observers his ability on the mound is too rare to pass up. He would be a first round pick as a shortstop or even an outfielder, but as a pitcher he’s top-of-the-draft material.
Greene’s command is not perfect, which is hardly unusual given his age. This is traced to mechanical inconsistency, as his release point can vary from pitch to pitch, or at least it did last year.
The angles on these videos are different but it looks to me like he’s smoothed out his delivery and has a more consistent release point compared to last year. If he maintains that from game to game and his command holds up this spring, the possibility of being selected first-overall could become a certainty.
The Minnesota Twins pick first-overall this year and Greene has to be at the top of the list as the amateur season begins. As with any young pitcher there’s always the risk of injury or sudden skill slippage, but it is fair to say that, except for the weight of history, Greene has everything in his favor.
But there’s always a pioneer. Every pitch Greene throws this spring will be closely scrutinized to see if he can become that pioneer.