It was obvious there would be something special to Hunter Greene. That’s why Reds’ executives and Cincinnati media affiliates stuffed Fifth Third Field on Monday night.
They were here to see the next great pitching hope for a parent club that sorely needs an infusion of long-term mound success. The kind of impact teams can build around. An ace.
Making a frigid debut with the Dragons - there were two inches of snow on the infield Monday morning - the Los Angeles native showed his stuff in the third inning against the visiting Lake County Captains (Indians). After two hits and a passed ball, the Reds’ No. 1 draft choice from last year faced runners on second and third and no outs.
“I live for situations like that, where you get in a jam and you’ve got to just bear down,” he said. “That’s when you really become a pitcher.”
He struck out the side.
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Greene then high-stepped off the mound. He gave a fist pump and admiring glance to the rest of the Dragons’ fielders who raced to meet him. A grinning Dragons manager Luis Bolivar was among the first to greet him in the dugout.
“To come out of a jam to see how excited he was, I like the kid,” Bolivar said. “I like the kid a lot.”
There was much to like in the most hyped debut for any Dragons player in club history. His pitch count at 50, Greene went for 53 mostly power offerings. His first pitch was a 100 mph heater. The giant left-field scoreboard stayed on 100 the next two pitches. By his fourth pitch he had a strikeout.
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In all, Greene pitched three impressive innings. He allowed two earned runs, walked none and – get this – eight of the nine outs were punch-outs.
He’s 18 years old.
“I knew I was done after that (third) inning so I knew I could show it a little bit more,” said Greene following the 3-2 win that snapped the Captains’ four-game win streak to begin the Midwest League low Class A minor-league baseball season.
“That’s when you really show you know how to throw on certain counts and your pitches are ready, every single pitch in the arsenal. I love that and I know my team was fired up and coach Bully was fired up, too. He was ready to go. That was a great situation to get out of.”
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There are many more unanswered questions about this pitching phenom who already has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Will he be in a five-day rotation? When and by how much will the pitch count increase? How about that change-up (he threw two)? Will he get an at-bat? And how long will he remain a Dragon?
“It’s very exciting and I’m very proud of him,” said Russell Greene of his son. “It’s fun to watch and I’m glad to see he did well. The fans really embraced him as well.”
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Miles Gordon scored on an error in the sixth that broke a 2-all tie and held up for the final score. It was the Dragons’ (2-3) second straight win and first for reliever Austin Orewiler, who went four innings and allowed just one hit. Tyler Buffett and Sarkis Ohanian pitched the final two flawless innings.
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Dragons tales: Several Dragons players and team mascot Gem will make appearances at Warder Park-Wayne and Snyder Park elementary schools in Springfield on Wednesday. This is part of the Dragons’ MVP program.