This season’s most anticipated debut in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization happens Monday at Fifth Third Field. Hunter Greene will be on the mound for the Dayton Dragons.
Greene was drafted in the first round last year by the Reds and was the second overall pick. His fastball was clocked over 100 mph in high school. He’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Dragons are even putting some limits on his media availability.
“He’s hounded every day,” Dragons pitching coach Seth Etherton said. “People aren’t going to like it when he actually has a job to do.”
That job starts Monday night at 7 in his Midwest League debut against Lake County. Greene won’t have the pressure of trying to pitch the Dragons to their first victory. The Dragons (1-3) rallied for four runs in the eighth inning Sunday to defeat Bowling Green 4-2.
“He’s not nervous,” Etherton said. “He’s been on a big stage a long time and there’s a lot of anticipation going into this start. He’s going to go out there and have fun and do his thing.”
Greene was pitching for his high school team in California a year ago. He’s used to the media attention, but not much else yet.
“It’s a big jump playing every day, having to travel with long bus rides,” Greene said. “For me it’s just having to pitch every five days and making sure I’m ready for that.”
Greene pitched three times last summer for Billings in rookie league ball. Tonight he will be in front of a sellout crowd.
“That’s something a lot of players like to have, support from fans, especially when they’re away from home,” Greene said. “Just being able to experience it, I’m excited.”
Greene is 18, but his learning curve isn’t quite what it was last summer. Etherton, who was Greene’s pitching coach in Billings, said Greene’s slider has improved, he’s gaining confidence in throwing his fastball inside and has developed a good changeup.
“It’s really him honing all of his pitches and him trusting it,” Etherton said. “It’s a very special gift he has physically and mentally, and he’s just learning how to use it.
“He asks questions, the right questions. And if he has more questions, he’ll ask them. He’s not afraid of that. He wants to really learn and be the best he can.”
Rally time: After the Dragons left a combined seven runners on base from the fourth through the sixth innings, they made it happen in the eighth with a little help.
A leadoff walk to Stuart Fairchild and a double by John Sansone started the rally. Fairchild scored on a groundout, and Sansone scored to tie it 2-2 on an infield single by Morgan Lofstrom.
Jose Garcia hit a routine grounder to third, but the throw to second for the force to end the inning was wild into right field. Lofstrom sprinted all the way home and avoided the tag to take a 3-2 lead and keep the inning alive. Jeter Downs, who was 3-for-5, hit a smash to third for another infield hit to score Garcia.
Next series: The Dragons will send Greene, Packy Naughton, Mac Sceroler and Tyler Mondile to the mound this week against Lake County (3-0). The Captains scored seven runs over the final three innings Sunday to defeat Fort Wayne 10-8.
Lake County at Dayton, 7:05 p.m., 980
About the Author