If you were at all concerned about the velocity from Hunter Greene as he returned from Tommy John surgery, those fears should be gone. The 21-year-old pitcher made the start for the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels – his first game action since July of 2018 when he was making starts for the then Low-A Dayton Dragons. The first three pitches of the game were clocked in on the stadium scoreboard at 101 MPH, 102 MPH, and 103 MPH. The next one was 103 MPH, too.

Things didn’t go quite as smoothly from there. A late swing resulted in a punched single down the first base line. Hunter Greene then hit Jon Jay with a breaking ball. Former Reds shorstop Jose Iglesias then hit a 3-run homer on a hanging slider to make it 3-0. A walk followed before another former Red came up. Greene came out ahead this time by striking out Phil Gosselin. Juan Lagares singled into right field. Outfielder Taylor Ward grounded the ball over to Joey Votto, who tossed to Greene at first, but Greene had the ball bounce off of his glove for an error, but he recovered and fired home where Tucker Barnhart tagged out Walsh who was trying to score. With his pitch count mounting the Reds chose to “roll the inning” at that point despite there just being two outs recorded.

The takeaway from the outing should be something as simple as “Hunter Greene is healthy and that’s a fantastic thing”. He hadn’t pitched against an opponent in 950 days (he pitched at the alternate site last season) and just getting back out on the mound was good to see.

With that said, he certainly had some struggles. His fastball was generally located well enough. The breaking ball, however, was the pitch where Greene seemed to have some struggles with. It was inconsistent and he couldn’t locate it often. As Jeff Brantley noted on the radio broadcast – finding your breaking ball in Arizona isn’t always easy. If we toss in that it’s the first appearance of the spring, well, there’s next to nothing at all to worry about.

What Hunter Greene had to say after the game

When asked how it felt being back on the mound in a game for the first time since July of 2018:

“Good man, it’s been a while since I’ve been in a game environment,” Greene said. “Getting back out there was kind of crazy, but going in I’ve been doing this since I was 6, 7-years-old so at the end of the day I just focused back to that and knowing that it’s just another game of baseball. A lot of excitement leading into it and just getting back out there and competing. To have Tucker back there and be able to trust someone with his experience and the career he’s had, that made it a lot easier. It was nice to have the guys out there and everybody was great and first day out of the books.”

On how he would grade his inning of work:

“Obviously expectations are always high,” said Greene. “But it’s my first game out and obviously having a short term memory is huge in this game and just being able to build off of today. I think that’s my biggest take away, just being able to build off of it. I’m glad that I played shortstop with that play after dropping that 3-1 play and being able to make it home. You just continue to grow and you learn from it and just move on to the next day.”

What was the biggest thing he learned from the experience:

“There was a lot of takeways, there was a lot,” Greene said. “For me I think the biggest thing is like I said earlier, just building off of it. My secondary pitchers, I felt like they were backing up a little bit. At the end of the day, I know it was 3-0 coming out, but at the end of the day I’m actually happy with how I felt and just my body and I felt comfortable out there, which I think is great. Not being in a game going on 2.5 years and then playing with these guys – I felt like I was ready and prepared. Just being out there. For me I’ve always felt like I rose to the occasion if I’m playing up and I think after today it’ll be a good test for me to come back and bounce back even better for next game.”

On why starting the game with 101, 102, and 103 MPH isn’t the memory he’ll take away from the game:

“Riley (O’Brien) was telling me that my first pitch was 101, 102, then 103,” said Greene. “It’s great, but for me I’m focusing on so much more than that. There’s a lot to work on other than just velocity. It’s great and a lot of guys are like ‘man I wish I threw that hard’, but for me I’m trying to work on some other things – my secondary pitches, just more like pitch philosophy and understanding who I am as a pitcher and how I get guys out the best – just focusing on that is kind of my biggest take away.”

What others were saying

Manager David Bell

On what he saw from Hunter Greene on the night:

“He came out throwing the ball, that’s for sure,” said Bell. “He showed off his velocity and definitely looked like he belonged out there. I think no matter what happened tonight, no matter what the result was – it was going to be a good experience for Hunter Greene to pitch in that game. Knowing Hunter, knowing how he approaches everything – he’ll learn from it. Not the worst thing in the world, but the results were probably not how he wanted them to go, but I know he’ll learn from it and be ready for his next time out. He was making pitches, he might have made a couple he’d like to have over again but for the most part he threw the ball well and it was a good experience for him.”

On the Tucker Barnhart helping Greene this spring:

“Yeah, Tucker has made an effort to be there for Hunter and catch his bullpens,” said Bell. “Hunter has really has welcomed that opportunity, not only because Tucker is who he is, but he recognized early that Tucker was trying to help him. He enjoyed the conversations after each time he caught him and he knew he was going to learn more by having Tucker’s experience, and that’s been nice to see and Tucker’s been great with him. He came in and I heard him say something along the lines to Hunter ‘I know the results weren’t great, but really, take one pitch back here or there and it could have gone totally different’, and that’s true, that’s how the game is. It’s fun to watch them help each other, and Tucker’s really taken it upon himself to help Hunter as much as he can.”

Catcher Tucker Barnhart

On what he saw from Hunter Greene on the night:

“His stuff’s electric,” Barnhart said. “We talked about it in the dugout – there’s really not much, and I know it’s not in the Major Leagues necessarily, but it is kind of for him a kind of welcome to the Major Leagues moment. First guys he faced were big league hitters and the guy hadn’t pitched in 18 months in a game, I don’t think. I’ve been paired up with him here in spring, just catching him and offering my feedback and working with DJ and Eric, and just make him realize his stuff is elite. His fastball his is ELITE. I think the first pitches tonight were 101, 102,103 – that speaks for itself. I think he’s just going to continue to polish his stuff and I think the sky’s the limit for the guy. He works so hard. His eagerness and willingness to get better, to learn, and to listen is awesome. I’ve had a blast, not only tonight, but I’ve had a blast getting to know him and getting to know him as a pitcher as well. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to a lot more of it.”

On the conversation he had with Greene after the inning was over:

“It’s funny, man. I stopped the bullpen the other day and asked him if he was having fun just because he was so stoic and stonefaced while he was throwing his bullpen on the side on the backfield throwing 98 in spring training and I just told him to laugh, have fun,” Barnhart said. “Tonight we were walking into the bullpen before the game started and he was asking about how we should attack hitters, which is phenomenal and I love hearing it, but I said why don’t you just throw 103 by somebody, because you can. The conversation we had in the dugout was just that there’s nothing other than building off of this that he can do. There’s no reason at all to put too much stock in the result. He threw a lot of really good pitches, he threw a lot of really good fastballs, some breaking balls that were very playable. We didn’t get to the change up much tonight, which I think is a very good pitch and it’s going to be a very good pitch especially with his fastball. I just tried to relay the message to continue to grow, continue to build off of what you did tonight and don’t think too much into it because everyone has their first time against big league hitters and tonight happened to be his.”

On if there was a specific plan on the night heading into the game:

“Not necessarily,” said Barnhart. “I just was kind of wanting to challenge hitters, maybe almost to a fault at points. I just wanted him to throw strikes, I didn’t necessarily have a plan. Just kind of going out there, it didn’t go like we wanted it to like we talked on the way in. My goal was to have him throw more pitches in the bullpen after the inning. I wanted him to get through the inning so fast that he needed to throw the rest of his pitches out in the outfield (bullpen). It didn’t work out like that, but I told him that I honestly feel he threw one bad pitch and that was to Iglesias, and I really think that. The ball Fletcher hit earlier he kind of like blocked it down the line. Then he hit Jon Jay on what he was trying to do – he was trying to throw him a back foot breaking ball and he hit him with a back foot breaking ball. Those things happen. Then he hung the slider. We had the roll the inning, he didn’t get all the way through it, but I really think he pitched better than I would say the result (was) and I tried to relay that message to him after the inning.”

39 Responses

  1. Bred

    No, the results were not what I hoped for, but I am glad he is heathy and throws an easy 103. I would have liked to have seen his change up. Lodolo looked good for his first time out also.

  2. steve

    Honestly, I liked what I saw from Lodolo and Richardson. They seemed to have plenty of velocity, along with, SECONDARY pitches.

      • Justin

        According to the announcers he hit 91 on his first fastball. After that the highest I heard was 95 and a few 94s.

  3. Tom

    If and when Hunter Greene develops his secondary pitches he will have a bright future. No need to rush him up to the bigs yet. He is also coming off of Tommy John surgery. Encouraging yes, but not ready for the majors yet. At the same time, would not like to see him still in minors at age of 25 as is case for a lot of Reds.

    • MK

      He has a decent breaking ball, at least he did in Dayton. Don’t know if he hasn’t spent enough time on it yet this Spring or maybe the lack of Arizona humidity, or just a bad day.

  4. doofus

    One observation: “HG103” is stitched on Hunter Greene’s glove.

  5. doofus

    Can Greene take something off his FB to get more movement?

  6. Klugo

    Good wake-up call for Greene. This ain’t Prasco. If you’re not focused on competing, you’re gonna get rocked. HG has a great mentality. He’ll recognize that and be better for it.

    And I’ll say it right now, I think Kyle Farmer will be just fine at SS. Maybe even better than just fine.

    • Klugo

      I just hope they don’t do the same with Greene as they did with Chapman- put him in the bullpen and then say “aww shucks- what are we gonna do now? Guess he’s our closer.”

    • Ghostrunner_onthird

      Right there with you. Not impressed at all w/ Holder.

    • MK

      I agree on Farmer Klugo but I was impressed with the Holder at bats as well. AlfRod on the other hand was disappointing.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        If Farmer is the starter, Holder will likely be a late-inning defensive replacement.

  7. TR

    Develop a couple other pitches but Greene gave us shades of Bob Feller last night.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    What an utterly irresponsible game ‘plan’ by Barnhart. “why don’t you just throw 103 by somebody, because you can”. “I just was kind of wanting to challenge hitters, maybe almost to a fault at points”. “We didn’t get to the changeup much…”.

    *FACEPALM*

    I’m so mad about this. This is the same garbage that relegates elite arms like Chapman and to a lesser extent Robert Stephenson to the bullpen. I’m sick to death of Barnhart mindlessly calling for nothing but fastballs from pitchers who have good ones, yet with Lodolo the pitches were mixed from the first batter on and he gets thru his inning with ease. As we saw, even AAAA bums can punch 102 thru a hole somewhere. Greene didn’t throw an offspeed pitch until his 7th pitch. Anyone think he had a good feel for it by then? No changeups thrown….how does that prepare you to get thru a lineup 3 times??? The Reds better get serious about his development or they’ll waste the greatest arm they’ve ever had.

    That said, Greene’s curve is loopy. That’s on him to tighten it up.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I get what you’re saying, to a degree, but it’s one inning at the beginning of ST. The first inning he’s pitched in two and half years. I feel this was more getting out there and getting that experience of facing opposing hitters again and building from there. I don’t mind that he was FB reliant. Many ML pitchers rely on their FB primarily the first time through the order. The offspeed pitches are then used to give batters different looks after you face them the first time. He’ll have plenty more opportunities this spring to break out the other pitches when he goes longer stints.

      • JB

        Bieber threw nothing but fastballs his first time out and got rocked. He said he was just trying to get his feel for it and being the first time out he didnt care about his other pitches.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Right, it’s ST. That’s why the results don’t matter because sometimes pitchers are just getting in work on specific pitches.

      • MBS

        Plus being his first “mlb” action, Barnhart probably wanted him to throw what he could control the best, and that’s usually a fastball. You saw the cookie he served Iglesias when he attempted a slider. I am more optimistic about Greene today, than I was last week. Hopefully both him and Loldolo will be on the 2022 opening day roster. Miley will probably be gone, and maybe Lorenzen to, so to have 2 talented guys ready to step up would be huge.

    • Doc

      Lighten up! The kid is 21 or 22, coming back off major arm surgery, hasn’t pitched above Class A nor in 2 1/2 years, and is not going to be on the Reds opening day roster. I’m with Barnhart in a meaningless game. Have fun. Enjoy the moment. Tomorrow we’ll get back to work.

    • RojoBenjy

      “why don’t you just throw 103 by somebody, because you can”

      In context Tucker said that when he was trying to explain how he wanted Hunter to loosen up and have fun. I don’t believe that it was Tucker’s real game plan.

      • Doc

        My only concern is that he threw something like 17 straight triple digit pitches in that futures game and everybody was oohing an ahhing, but soon thereafter the UCL issue surfaced. Fast forward 2.5 years and he throws triple digits out of the gate and everyone is again gaga over the speed. I certainly hope pitching becomes the goal, rather than throwing, before he needs another TJ procedure.

  9. SultanofSwaff

    Lodolo looked good. I like that he’s dropping the curve onto the back foot of right handed hitters and working the fastball away. Curious to see how his splits shake out.

    Lyon Richardson, welcome to Spincinnati. That was some elite spin on his curveball. I felt like I was watching Lucas Sims with his short arm path on separation. He could move quickly as a reliever.

    The pickup from Tampa, Garcia, looked decent. Might make a nice low leverage bullpen piece.

    India seems like a not very big dude. I like the plate discipline, but not sure he has enough power to play 3B everyday, which lessens his value as 2b are more plentiful and we have one for 3 more years. He’s my main trade chip with Denver for Story. Let’s go!

    • Jimbo44CN

      I thought Garcia looked the best out of all the pitchers. Mixed things up, not a lot of balls, got guys out.

    • Old Big Ed

      India may not turn out to be a power hitter, but it will have nothing to do with his size, which they list as 6′, 200 pounds. Hank Aaron was 6′, 180; Willie Mays was listed at 5’10”, 170; Mickey Mantle was 5’11”, 195 (all per Baseball Reference). Mookie Betts is 5’9″ 170. The list goes on and on.

      The Reds aren’t likely to take on Trevor Story’s contract, either, but I can’t fault anybody for hoping.

      • Randy in Chatt

        George Brett was the exact same size 6′ 200.

    • RojoBenjy

      Story would be too little, too late. Like Moustakas and Castellanos.

  10. Hotto4Votto

    Comes across as a great young man, student of the game, and a competitor. Can’t wait to see more of Hunter Greene. Great to see Lodolo, India, and Richardson in actual game play as well. Happy to watch Reds baseball.
    It’ll be a weird season if you can hear individual fans in the stadium on TV. That Angels fan behind the plate, especially that one inning….it was a lot.

    • JB

      I dont know if you watch hockey but you definitely hear alot of bombs coming from the ice. Announcers will be apologizing alot this year.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I don’t really, unless I am with a friend that’s really into hockey. I could imagine it’ll be an interesting season for broadcasters. I couldn’t make out all of what the Angel’s fan was saying, and didn’t hear anything offensive. It was just constant yelling and IMO pretty annoying.

  11. JB

    Watching the game I think Greene had a bit of the jitters honestly. First batter should have been rung up on 3 pitches but umpires are in mid season form. Then he hit Jay and then a pass ball on Barnhart. I think he was flustered then as he tossed up a slider across the plate to Iglesias. I like what I saw from him though. I think next time will be better after getting this first one out of the way.

    • Hotto4Votto

      The home plate umpire was certainly in ST form on that out call at the plate. The Reds guy had his foot slide completely across the plate by the time the C had the ball. Called him out. I don’t know how you’re that close to the play and miss it.

  12. MuddyCleats

    Thing about Green is it’s easy gas. Kid doesn’t look like he’s over working it which should allow him to improve his pitch location over time w/out loosing velo. Missed the other pitchers, but did get to see Sanmartin close. Very impressed w/ this kid. He had excellent command and movement of all 3 pitches

  13. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I’m not as concerned with the velocity as I am with getting people out for a pitcher.

    Hey, I can understand that “wins” and “getting people out” aren’t always the “most important thing” with ST games. However, when one talks about making the “big club”, or “advancing their career”, as a pitcher, you are talking about getting people out, not allowing runs, etc.

    So, 103, sure, I ecstatic. But, I will gladly take, for example, 98 mph the entire time and hit the proper locations, get people out, don’t allow runs, etc. For, pitching isn’t just “how hard” you can throw but a bunch of other things.

  14. Optimist

    Yes it was exciting, and yes it shows how tight the margin of error is in MLB, even in spring training, BUT, I didn’t see this as so much a Hunter Greene performance as a pitching coaching staff performance. Analytics needs data to work, so let’s get the data – have Hunter throw the complete array of pitches, see how the work, and adjust accordingly. He needs the live-game experience (the drop at 1st and throw home was very nice) and the staff needs game volume data to work with.

    When drafted a 2020-2021 callup was likely – events cancelled the 2020 move, but it will be surprising if we don’t see him this Sept., if not earlier. If nothing else, his stuff is easier to plug into relief than Lodolo’s, and no I don’t expect them to dither on his role like they did with Chapman and Raisel. Next spring he should be looking at the 3rd-5th starter role.

  15. Tom Mitsoff

    Clearly Greene’s secondary pitches need a lot of work in terms of location, but that’s to be expected for a guy who hasn’t been in a game for over a year. My guess is he will start in High A (is that Dayton now?) and will move up as quickly as his effectiveness indicates is warranted.

    Really hard not to get pumped about 103, and 100+ on numerous fastballs.

    • Doug Gray

      Just to clear things up – he hasn’t pitched in a game in nearly 2.5 years.

  16. Dalw

    Can he throw a breaking ball for strikes? Then I’ll be impressed…..