On June 12th at 7pm, Major League Baseball will kick off its annual amateur draft. The Minnesota Twins will be on the clock first, having the number one pick for the first time since they drafted Joe Mauer with the selection all the way back in 2001.
Your Cincinnati Redlegs will pick next. The Reds will selected second overall in the draft for the first time since they selected Nick Senzel with the choice all of about 368 days prior.
Draft boards are really beginning to take shape, and there seems to be consensus, at least at the top of the draft. I’ll stop short of calling either of these guys “can’t miss” prospects in the way of Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant, but nearly every mock you’ll read currently has two names at the top of the list: Brendan McKay and Hunter Greene.
Let’s take another look at Hunter Greene.
Hunter Greene, RHP/SS, Notre Dame HS (California)
All the way back in December, I wrote a bit on Greene as a prep star in Southern California. It was way, way early then to begin prognosticating about draft order. Now, it’s not, but not a lot has changed about Greene’s draft status. He’s a phenomenal two way player right now, but if he goes at the top of the draft, it’ll likely be because of his electric right arm.
If the Twins select Greene with the first pick, he’ll be the first RHP high school prospect to ever be selected 1.1 in the amateur draft. And if so, it’ll be for good reason, as Jim Callis recently opined over at MLB Pipeline; Greene might be the best high school RHP ever.
As I mentioned months ago, Greene is a great young man that anyone should be able to root for, and Sports Illustrated delved into that backstory even deeper just a few weeks ago. Hell, they even put the prep baller on the cover of their magazine, asking the question, “Baseball’s Lebron or the new Babe?”
It’s all very high praise for a 17-year-old high schooler to be certain, but it doesn’t come without merit. Greene easily works in the mid-90s with his fastball and has touched upwards of 102mph “effortlessly.” The scouts quoted in that SI piece consider his delivery and mechanics “flawless,” and that was when he was only 14 years of age.
Oh, and he’s long and athletic, making hard plays look easy in the field at shortstop and, as I mentioned before, smacking 450 foot dingers out of Petco Park in San Diego.
You mostly already know the profile, as not much has changed since when I touched on it in December, except maybe the legend has only grown. The pick wouldn’t be without risk for the Reds, however.
It appears as though Greene and his family are doing a bit to manipulate his draft position, as he’d much rather stay around his home in Southern California than move to the Midwest, whether that be Minnesota or Cincinnati. At the third pick this draft sits the Padres, located quite conveniently in San Diego, California. Baseball America calls the family’s wishes “a poorly kept secret.”
In order to possibly discourage teams from taking him with the highest picks, Hunter Greene was shut down as a pitcher late last month, despite being healthy and able. He’s a high pick as a shortstop, of course, but maybe not THE highest. That won’t give teams another chance to scout him in games, though it seems the book is probably out.
At this position in the draft, it’s hard to see a team get too caught up in all of this, because Greene doesn’t have many options. Any team that selects him knows they’re going to have to spend full slot to get him, so at that point, Greene either decides to become a multi-millionaire at age 17, or he takes the risk and reports for his freshman year of college at UCLA. That last part makes sense if you’re a high schooler looking to improve your stock from a mid-level pick into a top one. It doesn’t so much if you can’t do anything than play a chance game with next year’s draft and hope a team in your geographical preference gets to select at the top of the draft.
Short of Greene and his people telling the Reds that he flat out won’t sign with them if selected at number two overall, it’s hard to see the Reds passing on the talent. It’s hard to Greene passing up the opportunity.