Seven decades ago, or so it certainly feels like it was that long ago in the year 2020, the Cincinnati Reds selected Hunter Greene with the #2 pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. He was the consensus #1 player in the draft and the Reds were thrilled to land the then 17-year-old right-handed pitcher with the second pick.
Cincinnati took it slow with Greene – even letting him hit in a limited stint in 2017 after he joined the Billings Mustangs – before he threw a handful of innings (4.1 in three starts) to round out that season. In 2018 he was sent to pitch for the Dayton Dragons to begin the year. After a rough start to the year where his BABIP was .633 through his first five games, Greene locked in and went on a dominant run over the next 13 starts where he struck out 71 batters and walked just 13 of them with a WHIP under 1.00 and an ERA of 2.91.
Unfortunately that 13th game came at the end of July. His next start was skipped and then the next one, too, before it was announced that he had a tear in his UCL. Rather than undergo Tommy John surgery, Greene chose to give rehab and PRP injections a shot – it had worked out for other Reds pitchers, including Michael Lorenzen and Anthony DeSclafani in recent memory. Things had been going well and were on track for the young right-hander to start the year just a little bit behind everyone else. He was pitching in spring training, and in his last outing before the players were set to head out to their assigned teams, Greene re-injured his elbow – tearing his UCL again. This time he opted for Tommy John surgery and he had the procedure done on April 9th, 2019.
In his recovery from the surgery, he’s rebuilt his mechanics. Over at RedsMinorLeagues.com we took a look at the new vs. old after his first bullpen session in spring training this year. A few days after that first session is when the sports world in the United States of America shut down, and the country quickly followed suit.
With baseball still shut down, teams can’t hold practices or anything like that. What they are doing is sort of giving guys plans to do their best to follow along while they are “on their own”. Hunter Greene is doing just that, working out with other players in the area. He posted this video this past week of himself getting in a bullpen session against, what I presume, is the child of the hitter from the bullpen session that Rick Wild Thing Vaughn decapitated in Major League.
Staying sharp and ready to go! pic.twitter.com/EFLoulmFhY
— Hunter Greene (@HunterGreene17) May 12, 2020
For a player like Hunter Greene, being ready to go is always the right mindset. But it might be a while before he’s allowed “to go”. While there has been no official announcement made, it appears that Major League Baseball is planning as if there will not be a minor league season in 2020. That’s not surprising given all of the talk of “taxi squads” or “practice squads” for the Major League teams in all of these proposed plans. It has been signaling all along that there wasn’t likely to be minor league teams playing this year and that these additional “squads” would be with the big league club as insurance against injuries/sickness/paternity leave/etc.
While there will almost assuredly be prospects that are going to be on the taxi squad for the Cincinnati Reds in 2020 if they get a season going, Greene – recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely still a bit further away from the Major League club as a result of it – isn’t likely to be one of the handful of true minor leaguers placed on it. Those few spots will be taken up, likely, by guys who were going to be in Double-A and Triple-A this year who are a bit closer to big league ready.