On Friday night Hunter Greene took the mound against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Chattanooga Lookouts starter tossed 6.0 shutout innings with two hits, six walks, and he struck out nine batters. You can actually watch the outing here if you are interested. It was his 7th start of the season. It lowered his ERA on the year to 1.98 as he moved to 5-0. Greene also raised his league-leading total of strikeouts to 60 in 41.0 innings where he’s only allowed 27 hits – two home runs – and 14 walks.

Sunday morning Hunter Greene was on the move. Literally. While the move is not official yet, sources have confirmed to me, and to Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Greene indeed is moving up to Triple-A Louisville and will be joining the team on their road trip to Omaha this week.

The move up to Triple-A for Hunter Greene gets him one step closer to the Major Leagues. This is important for a few reasons. With the protocols that are still in place, calling someone up from a level lower than Triple-A becomes a lot tougher of a process because only at the Triple-A level would a player called up not have to go to the big leagues and isolate themselves for a period of time before joining the big leagues. Triple-A is working with different rules than the lower levels and a player called up can immediately join the big league team.

The other thing that could be, but may not be as important, is what Triple-A hitters can teach Hunter Greene. Obviously he’s going to learn something in nearly every start. First is the fact that he’s only got 113.2 innings under his belt in games since 2017 – so the experience is a bit limited and he’s probably seeing things often enough that is a “first”. His stuff was simply too dominant for the Double-A level hitters on a consistent basis. That may also hold true for Triple-A, too, but the only way to find out is to promote him and see.

Generally speaking, Triple-A has fewer “top prospects” in the league. It’s tough to know how true that is for 2021 at this point because teams may be playing guys there for the previously mentioned call up protocols. But what Triple-A has always had more of were those veteran, former big leaguer, been-around-forever types of guys. And there are still a lot of those guys around. They can make a pitcher work. They can, typically, make adjustments a little quicker because they’ve been around and seen a lot of stuff over the years.

Hunter Greene is just 21-years-old. He has not faced a single batter that’s younger than he is this season. In fact, he’s only pitched in two games in which he faced a hitter that was younger than he was and both of those game while he was in Dayton back in 2018. Facing older hitters is nothing new if the barometer is “older than Greene”. And maybe it’s not going to matter much as the 100+ MPH fastball, low 90’s slider, cutter, and change up could simply be too much for most of the guys in Triple-A, too. But it’s also more likely that Triple-A is going to have more hitters who can do something against Greene and have to have him make some sort of adjustment than the hitters in Double-A would, and did.

40 Responses

  1. steve wallace

    Doug,
    Is Greene on a innings limit for the year? If so, should the Reds think about the bullpen at the MLB level or keep him at triple A?

    • Doug Gray

      I’m sure that he is – but what that limit is, I do not know. Right now, in my opinion, the team just needs to be thinking about the next 6 weeks in Triple-A for Greene and see what happens and figure things out from there. Personally, I wouldn’t think about moving him to the bullpen to “conserve his innings” until at least the start of August. He needs the base innings to build upon for next year, and he also just needs the reps on the mound.

  2. Jonathan Linn

    I know most Reds fans want Greene to be rushed in order to help out the bullpen. Who was the last good SP who has made that transition? Last one I can think of is Adam Wainwright. He was a RP in 2006 and the switched to SP in 2007….I think its a gamble to push Greene to be an RP and would rather him stay in Triple A as a SP for the rest of the year.

  3. Mark Moore

    A little bit of “easy does it” with Hunter … let’s see what he learns in L’Ville. I have to think Lodolo follows once that pesky blister heals. Of course, a busted blister would put a foreign substance on a ball, right? So who knows …

  4. Doc

    I wonder if the move of Greene to Louisville is an indication the Vlad and/or Tony are staying with the big club.

    • Michael A Smith

      @doc

      I think it was for Greene’s development.

    • MK

      Well Vlad at least deserves to stay and Tony might but still only one start under his belt.

      And Jonathon, Tejay Antone has made a pretty good transition from minor league starter to the bullpen.

      • Simms11

        Let the kid continue to work as a starter. I’d rather see him in the rotation long term rather than a situational bullpen option

    • ohiojimwalker

      Louisville needs starting pitchers for sure; but also, when an express train is running on the tracks, folks make way for it.

  5. ohiojimwalker

    As Doug said, Greene needs the AAA experience to learn against better hitters. However his stuff is already there. He routinely throws at 102mph+ and shows what is an MLB level slider. At AA, his strike to ball ratio was roughly 2:1. If he maintains or betters this ratio and is getting outs at AAA for 6 weeks, it is a waste to leave that stuff at AAA if the team is still struggling with its bullpen.

    The imperative would be to go on and bring him to MLB. It is above my pay grade to figure out how to use him; but, he could make the difference in being in the post season and not being there.

    Looking to the future Greene has already demonstrated the physical and mental capability to cycle through pitching effectively into a 7th inning regardless of how he might be used at MLB. As long as his usage at MLB gets the total innings count he needs for the year, next spring he will be ready to prep again as an MLB starter.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      To me, the imperative is to prepare him as a major league starter. Literally any other pitcher in the system I would be okay with using other ways in a pinch. I believe, despite the Tommy John surgery, he could potentially be a top 1 percent starter. You don’t mess around with that, IMO. I DO NOT want him to be another pitcher with great stuff (see Chapman, Antone) who the Reds don’t get full potential from due to limited number of innings in the bullpen.

      • ohiojimwalker

        Chapman and Antone (to date) are human decisions that could have been reversed. The past is to learn from, not fear, is how I see it.

        Losing a playoff berth this year because Chapman never made it back to being a starter is in my mind fearing rather than learning from what went before.

        Most importantly in this situation is what Greene has already established in the last 5-6 weeks. He has shown he is physically capable of being a roatation pitcher. Chapman never proved that at any level here in the US. So, it is a clear choice and workable alternative to cycle Greene back to starting next spring even if he relieves some this year at MLB

      • JayTheRed

        OhioJimWalker,
        What your forgetting is once Chapman went to the bullpen he no longer wanted to be a starter, he said flat out he want to close games for the Reds.

        Antone wants to start I really believe that but he also knows his team needs him so I feel like he is good either way.

        Greene should stay a starter if at all possible. I worry he would get to liking the bullpen too much like Chapman did.

    • DaveCT

      Re: ‘the stuff is already there.’

      No one on this blog has a clue as to whether Hunter’s stuff is already there. It’s not our job, literally. And we are clearly unqualified.

      Boddy and Co. likely have a small mountain of info on Hunter from this year alone. Being data driven, as we are now, means that is what will advise the org to bring him up. And when.

      Sure, Hunter is passing the eye test, or the armchair data test, but, really. He will be given goals and objectives at AAA and when he meets those, he’ll likely be promoted.

      Believe me, having a system-wide development program — and, more importantly, sticking to it — is far better than the haphazard, disorganized non-development program of even the recent past.

      Man, I never want to see that mess again.

  6. Indy Red Man

    Francisco Rodriguez came up at 20 and was a key part in the Angels winning the WS that year. Its been done before.

    • Doug Gray

      He was also a reliever in the minors (had started in the past, pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in 2002 in the minors with the Angels – made 50 relief appearances in AA/AAA that season).

      • Indy Red Man

        Its common for starters to go 4-5 innings now. Nobody says Greene would have to used like a traditional reliever. He could come in and go 3 innings or maybe 1 in a pinch here and there.

        I’m with Jim. Physically there are no other Chapmans that throw 102+ and their arm stays intact year after year. Most of the hard throwers are like Thor with the Mets or Hicks w/St. Louis. There is a finite # of 102+ mph heaters on that arm so why waste them in the minors. We’ll find a place for you if you can throw strikes with an arm like that!

      • Indy Red Man

        Don Gullett 77 ip at 19 in 1970 and the Reds won the NL that year. What a concept!

      • Doug Gray

        That was literally 50 years ago. The game isn’t the same for a million different reasons.

      • Doug Gray

        And as I noted above – I’m not against bringing him up to pitch out of the bullpen much later this year as a way to keep him pitching all year but in line with his innings limit. But I’m not even thinking about it until August. Start him for now.

      • Indy Red Man

        I get it, but no reason not to have Greene, Lodolo, and Barrero atleast at AAA. The Reds could have a legit chance to win the division and that makes it easier to call them up!

  7. Klugo

    Very interesting insight on AAA vs AA. Never thought of it that way.

  8. LDS

    I’m with the don’t rush it crowd. Develop Greene & Lodolo as starters. If they don’t make it to Cin this year or before Sept, NBD. Play the long game. As for Barrero, really don’t rush him. Let him adjust to his personal trauma before layering on the baseball pressure, AAA maybe this year. Again, the long game. Short game? Still like to see some trades. Trade Suarez, who likely the best bet other than Castellanos. Make a deal with Castellanos before he opts out. Trade Moustakas if you can though I doubt it’s possible. Senzel? Really ambivalent given his health history though I think I still like him & India in the infield. Start developing a 1B. Votto is doing decent of late but don’t bet on him in the long run. Shogo, a head scratcher – play him or trade him. Bottom line, don’t mortgage the future by rushing the AA guys.

    • LDS

      The lineup shows Heineman starting. It’s that L/R thing I guess despite the fact that Heineman hits lefties less well than Shogo or Naquin though none are really doing well.

    • David

      Honestly, if the Reds are in a pennant race (and it looks like it is happening), I don’t see them trading Castellanos this year.
      Moustakas right now has little trade value. If he comes back and plays well for 4-5 weeks before the end of July, then maybe he does.
      Senzel likely also has no trade value right now, even if he was playing.

      Shogo, nice guy but the Reds overpaid to get him, and he is on the decline as a player; he peaked a few years ago in Japan. I would like to see him play everyday for a month (now) just to see what he has. Strangely enough, he MIGHT have trade value for a team that needs an outfielder.

      • LDS

        Agree. That’s why I’d move Suarez.

    • JayTheRed

      Ok did I miss something who is Barrero? Are we talking about Jose Garcia? The SS prospect did he have a name change? What did I miss?

      • jon vera

        yes, he changed his name a month ago.

  9. Cory Trenkamp

    They won’t want to bring him up and start his arbitration clock

  10. DataDumpster

    I am glad to see Hunter get into AAA for the reasons mentioned above. But, I have to add in one of my favorites of the BRM era; the quick worker with the wicked curve ball, Gary Nolan. Brought into the 1967 season as an 18 year old and responded with a 14-8 line, 2.58 ERA and 226 IP. His fastball was probably about 90 but few cared.
    Yes, things were quite different 50 year ago as he led the league in 8.2 Ks per 9 IP and most games were over in less than 2 1/2 hours.

  11. steve

    is there something wrong with Winker?

    • Old Big Ed

      Probably just a scheduled day off, and a lefty is starting.

  12. David

    I think both Gary Nolan and Don Gullett threw harder than 90 mph in their day. They were both contemporaries of Nolan Ryan, who was later clocked at over 100 mph. Gary threw REAL hard as an 18 year old, and Willie Stargell said of Gullett that he had “wall to wall heat”. Stargell had seen some pretty hard throwers in the ML prior to Gullett.

    • DaveCT

      And they were both injured and largely finished as top tier pitchers at young ages.

  13. SteveO

    Louisville site has Sanmartin as the scheduled P tomorrow and TBD on Thursday. Greene starting on Thursday will give him 5 days between starts.

  14. AllTheHype

    Greene needs his innings built out this year. He HAS to remain a starter until he logs the targeted inning base. The last thing the Reds want to do is shut him down in August 2022 at 130 innings because he was transferred to the bullpen in 2021.

    After he logs his innings this year, then he can help the Reds for the playoff push as a reliever if they are still in it.

    • MBS

      100% right, Greene and Lodolo’s 22 season is more important than anything they could do for the MLB club this year. Once their innings are where they need to be, then yes, add them to the pen for a playoff push if it will help the team.

  15. Steven Schoenbaechler

    I’m not interested in rushing them. However, I’m not interested in holding them back, either. If they are ready, move them up. No need to do something like wait till the end of the season. No need to consider “one season, one level”. If they are ready, do it.

    Lodolo should be coming soon, also.