Hunter Greene earned the first win of his professional career, striking out eight in five innings while allowing one run as the Dayton Dragons beat the Lansing Lugnuts 11-8, at Fifth Third Field on Sunday.
The start marked the fourth time in five starts Greene’s (1-3, 6.32 ERA) allowed fewer than one run. In that frame, he threw 21.2 innings.
“It’s awesome to get my first pro win and it means a lot. It’s special for sure,” Greene said. “My team was really behind me in the field and everything and made great plays. They were just ready to go and I was just feeding off their energy.”
His first minor-league victory came almost one year after the Cincinnati Reds drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick.
The absence of victories in Greene’s win column isn’t the 18-year-old’s fault. He didn’t start rookie ball until the end of August.
This season, the Reds placed him on a limited pitch count, which makes it difficult for Greene to complete five innings, the required amount to be eligible for a win. He entered the afternoon on an 85-pitch count and needed 77 before finishing his day.
“lt felt great,” he said. “I executed and I just felt good.”
Manager Luis Bolivar agreed.
“He attacked, used his fastball … and used both sides of the plate. Just well executed. “
Play of the game: Center fielder Andy Sugilio and right fielder Michael Beltre flexed their muscle early, hitting back-to-back home runs off Lugnuts’ starter Maverik Buffo, giving Dayton an early 3-0 lead.
Beltre’s no stranger to home run parades. He followed Miles Gordon’s homer against the West Michigan Whitecaps with a moonshot of his own on May 31.
The Dragons continued to pile on, scoring five in the second with Stuart Fairchild capping off the frame with a home run to right, his sixth. Dayton added three runs more in bottom of the fifth.
“It’s great when you have a big lead like that,” Greene said. “You feel loose … you’re breathing, you’re executing, you’re not trying to do overdo anything. You’re just going out there and pitching.”
The Lugnuts did their most damage against Dauri Moreta in the bottom of the seventh, scoring four runs.
Dragons’ tales: Blink and you’ll miss a Greene fastball. And that’s if you’re in the stands.
Imagine being in the batter’s box as the 18-year-old phenom whizzes a 101-mile-per hour fastball into the glove of his catcher, Hendrick Clementina. Watch enough games and you’ll see more and more pitchers throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s, but Greene is playing at another level.
“(He throws) more than hard,” said Lake County Captains second baseman Tyler Friis, who was in town to face Hunter Greene May 24.
Friis is one of five players to homer off Greene, with the latest being Lansing’s Samad Taylor, who hit a 385-foot shot to left field Sunday, Greene’s only mistake.
Friis, a switch hitter, said he noticed a difference in the way Greene approaches left- and right-handed hitters.
“He seems to only go to the changeups with lefties and then more the breaking balls to righties,” Friis said. “I’m not sure if that’s a comfort thing or what that is, but if you can turn him into a two-pitch guy, I think that’s the way you’re going to have success against him.”
Greene said that it may have looked like that during that particular outing, but it’s not a regular tendency.
“I mix them both,” he said. “It’s really just what I’m feeling and what is working out there.”