October 5, 2022

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Greene reaches triple digits 20 times in MLB debut

4 min read
Impressive right-hander picks up 1st MLB win, helps Reds split set with Braves
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ATLANTA — The way Hunter Greene was pitching for the Reds, it looked like he has been doing this for quite a while. But no, Sunday afternoon’s series finale vs. the defending World Series champion Braves was the top prospect‘s much-hyped, much-anticipated Major League debut.

Not appearing too dialed up for a moment he’s prepared for since he was a teenager, Greene, MLB Pipeline’s No. 22 prospect overall, was impressive during a 6-3 Cincinnati win before 38,233 fans at Truist Park. As he threw 92 pitches over five innings, the 22-year-old right-hander yielded three earned runs on four hits and two walks to go with seven strikeouts to earn his first victory.

“I felt great out there. I felt like I was at home,” Greene said. “A lot of people were like, ‘Don’t look up.’ But I looked up right when I got out there. I wanted to take it all in and enjoy it. I felt really comfortable out there. I’m really happy with today.”

It was a much-needed performance, as it enabled the Reds to leave town with a four-game series split. 

“The whole team was thrilled for him. It couldn’t have gone any better against such a good lineup,” manager David Bell said.

Here’s the tale of the tape:

• Greene threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of his 21 batters. 

• According to Statcast, Greene’s four-seam fastball (used 56 times) averaged 99.7 mph. He reached triple digits 20 times, with a maximum speed of 101.6 mph — which Matt Olson lined to right field for Atlanta’s first hit.

• Greene threw 23 sliders with 11 swings and five misses. Average speed: 86.1 mph.

• The changeup was used 13 times with five swings and one miss. It averaged an astounding 90 mph, but was nearly 10 mph slower than the four-seamer.

• Through his first 10 batters, Greene had six strikeouts.

“For him to control the game with his presence and his stuff, he did an excellent job,” catcher Tyler Stephenson said.

Greene opened with a 1-2-3 first inning. Eddie Rosario was retired with a groundout to second base. Next was Olson, who struck out on a 100.3 mph fastball. Third batter Austin Riley went down on strikes in three pitches — including an 87 mph slider to end the inning.

“It’s always a good way to obviously start, with the momentum in your favor. And just feed off that and continue to pound the zone and just attack,” Greene said.

Greene continued to change speeds throughout. Following his first walk issued with one out in the second inning, he threw three straight sliders away to strike out Adam Duvall. Dansby Swanson met a similar fate in the third inning, when he was called out on an 86.9 mph slider for strike three.

“I was really happy with that today,” Greene said of the slider. “That was a nice feeling, knowing that it was in my back pocket, just keeping those guys off-balance, being able to slow the game down and just read swings helped a lot today.”

During the top of the third inning against Ian Anderson, the Reds sent nine batters to the plate and gave Greene a 5-0 lead. The first hit against Greene came in the fourth, when Olson led off with a single and Riley’s double off the wall in center field led to Marcell Ozuna’s sacrifice fly. Greene escaped when Alex Dickerson hit a liner that was caught by first baseman Joey Votto.

That’s when Greene showed some emotion coming off the mound.

“That fired me up,” Greene said. “That was awesome to see him make that play to just keep us in it. That inning could have went sideways pretty quick. I had confidence that I would be able to bounce back.”

In the fifth inning after Stephenson’s homer to left field provided a 6-1 lead, Greene gave up Travis d’Arnaud’s first-pitch, leadoff homer to right field and Olson’s two-out solo homer to center field.

Bell stuck with Greene, even as his pitch count started accumulating, and he was able to finish the fifth to qualify for the win.

“You definitely trust what you’re seeing with the way he was throwing the ball,” Bell said. “He was still throwing well. He might have got a little bit fatigued there at the end.”

A Sports Illustrated cover subject at 17 years old, in an article that suggested he could become baseball’s version of LeBron James, Greene was the No. 2 overall pick by the Reds in the 2017 MLB Draft. An elbow injury during his first full pro season in ‘18 led to 2 1/2 years of being sidelined — including a rehab from Tommy John surgery in ’19. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out his 2020 season.

All of that time culminated in a big league debut that was as advertised.

“Obviously being able to get a win in your first game is really special,” Greene said. “Not a lot of people get to do that. That’s a blessing in and of itself. It was a long road to get here and a lot of hard work put in. There is going to be a lot more hard work that has to be put in to have the career I want to have. I’m aware of that and I’m looking forward to it.”

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