Hunter Greene’s improvement on the mound for the Dayton Dragons is no accident.
The No. 2 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds is learning more about how to be a professional pitcher every time he takes the ball for the team’s Single-A affiliate.
Just ask him.
“Just continue to have a routine and trust myself and trust my team and understand it’s still a learning process for me,” he said of how he is approaching each start at the midway point of his first full professional season. “Just trust myself and have a lot of fun and keep it a game.”
The latest proof he’s picking things up fast came Wednesday night against Great Lakes.
After Greene allowed one run on three hits while striking out seven in six innings, he shared some specific thoughts on what went wrong and what went right.
“I wasn’t loading as much on my back side,” he said of what caused him to walk the first two batters of the fourth inning. “I was kind of rushing toward the plate. So just focus on my back side and my front side and having it in sync and just focus on that and getting back on top of the ball and getting downhill. That’s what I was focusing on.”
After a mound visit from pitching coach Seth Etherton, Greene bowed his back and struck out the next three batters to erase the threat he had created.
Much has been made of the 18-year-old’s maturity despite his age, and that was on display again as he kept his sanity against the Loons.
He did not panic then — just like he kept his cool after struggling in his last three starts in April.
“I did get off on a rough start, but it happens being young and 18 years old when some guys are 23 or 25,” he said. “It’s a huge difference and having that same confidence and passion for the game and going out there and competing is what I focus on.”
Greene’s ERA was a ghastly 10.06 after his first seven starts for the Dragons, but it is 2.23 over his last seven.
He has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) with nine walks and 41 strikeouts in 36.1 innings over the latter stretch.
“I don’t get down, and if I do it’s for a quick second just to reflect after the game,” Greene said. “For me, I’m better than that. I can’t let that stuff get to me. I’ve been playing way too long to let that stuff get at me and break me down so I never focus on that stuff. I get back after it that next day.”
The Reds may still have plenty of questions to answer at the major-league level, but they’ve certainly got a bright spot developing in Greene.