Hunter Greene has only pitched in one big league game this spring. That’s not entirely unexpected because Greene is not in big league camp, rather he’s an invite to “early minor league camp”. Things are just a little bit different from spring training in 2021. The backfields are closed off to the public. That’s where most of the guys in early minor league camp are playing. That’s where Hunter Greene is pitching most of the time. It’s where he pitched on Saturday and where no one was watching. Well, someone(s) were watching and someone who was watching let me know that Hunter Greene threw two fastballs, both strikes, at 104 MPH in the game. His breaking ball was working in the 88-90 MPH range on the day, too.

We all know that Hunter Greene can throw the ball hard. He reached 103 MPH in the Futures Game back in July of 2018. When he was throwing during the shutdown last year we saw him throwing 101-102 MPH. What we haven’t seen him do until Saturday night was go to 104 MPH. That’s some absolutely rarified air.

There have been 5 pitchers since 2008 who have recorded a pitch of 104 MPH. Aroldis Chapman, who holds the record for fastest pitch recorded in Major League Baseball history. He’s topped 104 MPH 66 times. Jordan Hicks has done so 12 times. Mauricio Cabrera, Tayron Guerrero, and Neftali Feliz all have done so once.

Now, I used the Baseball Savant search to gather this data. That means that we’re looking at either Pitch F/X, Trackman, or Hawk-Eye data. I also know that within that search there was no rounding up. I do not know if Greene’s two 104 MPH fastballs were 103.5+ and registered at 104 or not. Still, the fact is that only two players dating back to 2008 have hit 104 MPH twice at the Major League level.

Hunter Greene is still going to be heading to the minor leagues when the 2021 season begins. He’s still got things that he needs to work on. It’s still been 2.5 years since he pitched in a game where the result mattered in standings, and that game was for the then Low-A affiliate in Dayton (they are now the High-A affiliate). But he is still showing why he was considered the top talent in the 2017 draft, and has been the Reds top prospect ever since. He’s got something special when it comes to velocity. He’ll need to go out and show the breaking ball, change up, and ability to throw strikes in games when they start up in May for the minor leaguers, but the velocity is not only back to where it was pre-Tommy John surgery, it’s now surpassing where it was.

38 Responses

  1. Chi Reds Fan

    folks speak of his lack of FB movement, is FB movement teachable? why would his FB have less movement? Yes I realize at 104 batters will still struggle a bit but a 100+ FB w/movement that sounds nightmarish for the hitters

    • Doug Gray

      In theory fastball movement is teachable, to an extent. Movement is about spin, arm angle, etc. All of that is teachable (as far as I know, teaching one to spin a fastball more isn’t something you can do, but you can teach how to use the spin rate you have more efficiently so it gets a different kind of movement – rise, sink, run, cut). But it’s all a bit limited, too, to the pitcher himself and that natural ability to do certain things.

    • Doug Gray

      You were there? Which player and or coach are you?

      • Doug Gray

        Well, Hoyce would probably have to be there to know the result of the play.

      • Larry

        He’s just making a general statement that the harder it comes in the harder it goes out. Pretty common statement in baseball when talking about hard throwers.

      • Doug Gray

        For the record, that myth has been very debunked. The hitter’s bat speed and contact is far more important to the exit velocity than the velocity of the pitch.

        And I have no idea what his “general statement” was. I do know that saying it in response to someone throwing 104 MPH is just weird when the response should have been “this rules” instead of something more akin to “guys are gonna hit that hard”. I bet that comment wouldn’t have happened if I was reporting that some other prospect hit 99 MPH.

    • Larry

      That’s a lot of thought put into Hoyce’s 3 word 2 number reply.

      • Doug Gray

        This is also a bit too much effort to defend his weird comment, Larry. I at least get paid for this.

  2. MK

    Other than Ardolis the list of the people hitting rarified air isn’t that formidable. I’m more interested to know who can get out big league hitters.

    • MuddyCleats

      Exactly, 104 mph certainly gives him a leg / mountain up on most, but he still needs to b a pitcher and not a thrower. He’s exciting and hopefully will excel quickly! I’d like to read about he’s change up? Is he working on one and how is it rated?

  3. Tom

    If he cannot throw strikes, or cannot control other pitches MLB hitters will take the fastball and sit on his off-speed pitches. In other words, nice that he has elite velocity, but he will need more than that to be successful. And, so far he has not had a lot of success getting hitters out on a regular basis. He needs to become a pitcher rather than a thrower and it would be nice to have that on the Reds, at least until he becomes a free agent and the Reds cannot afford to keep him.

    • Doug Gray

      He struggled in his first 5 starts in 2018. In his next (and final) 13 starts he struck out 71 batters with 13 walks in 58.2 innings with a 2.91 ERA. That’s a lot of getting hitters out on a regular basis. He hasn’t pitched in any games that we’ve got stats for since (unless you want to count the 1 inning he pitched in spring training earlier this month).

      • Billy

        It seems that even the prospect rankers seem to forget how well Greene performed prior to TJS. There’s a lot of reason to be hopeful about him.

  4. Rob

    I love that Hunter Greene is in our system. His talent is unquestionable. I worry about how hard he throws and his ability to remain as a starting pitcher. I do not know of a starter that throws as hard as he does, consistently, that is successful. Seems like he would be perfect for the bullpen throwing that hard. I hope that I am wrong and I wish him the best of success.

    • RojoBenjy

      The interesting thing about Greene is that he doesn’t look like he’s straining or giving maximum effort while hitting these speeds. Does that mean he’ll be more durable? Who knows

      • Doc

        Right, MK, and that was not too long after everybody raved about his 17 straight 100+ mph pitches in the Futures game, give or take a pitch or two. I hope the reworked mechanics have fixed that risk so that we don’t have a TJS II.

        I wonder how much movement Chapman’s FB had/has.

      • Doug Gray

        He has very different mechanics today than he did before the injury.

      • DaveCT

        That Futures Game performance was troubling for me, with Hunter airing it out over a relatively taxing inning. Shades of Dizzy Dean who broke a toe, I believe, in an All Star game and later hurt his arm.

        Fun fact: My Uncle Bob was at AAA in the Cards system. Facing Dean in spring training, he doubled his first time up. Between 1st and 2nd, Bob gave Dean an earful. Next time up, three pitch strikeout. Bob said he never saw any of them. A short time later Bob was off to fight the war, where he met my dad and later introduced him to my mom. He used to say the reason i was born was because of his big mouth.

    • Old Big Ed

      I think Greene ought to study Justin Verlander, who is about the same size as Greene. Verlander’s approach has always been to sit at maybe 94 mph (depending on his age), but be able to touch 98 on occasion, when the occasion arose in a tough spot. It added a lot of command to his “sit” speed, but still allowed him to have extra pop as needed, without over-stressing his arm.

      Verlander at age 37 finally needed TJ surgery, but he racked up 26 wins, 72 bWAR, and almost 3000 innings before he did. And did it with a 9.1 K/9 IP. He is a certain Hall of Famer.

      A TON of Reds fans seem to have resented Hunter Greene since the Reds drafted him, which has always befuddled me. If he debuts at the start of the 2022 season, he will debut at almost exactly the same age as Verlander. Greene by all accounts has been generous with his time for community work in Los Angeles, and has done everything the Reds asked of him.

      • Billy

        I’ve seen it recommended many times that a pitcher should dial it back to improve command. Is there truth to this? Any studies that have looked into the correlation?

        I do understand that increased velocity does translate to increased forces on the body. I can understand the concern for additional injuries for that. I’m not sure of the degree to which intentionally holding back can reduce those stresses (or if the act of intentionally holding back might itself induce more stress).

        If it were true that dialing it back could improve command and reduce injury, I’d think teams would prioritize optimal long-term performance over optimal short-term performance, right? The gains due to increased command and reduced injuries would eventually outweigh the loss of peak performance, I’d assume. Figuring out where that tipping point is would be critical.

        (Maybe that’s the difference between most relievers and starters? The relievers are often not good enough for long-term sustained success, so you tell them to go out and use up every last bullet. The starters get handled in a more controlled manner because they’ll be the foundation of your pitching staff for several seasons. Unless it’s a playoff game or something like that, you prioritize the long view for them.)

      • citizen54

        I don’t think it’s because people dislike Hunter Green. It’s just that Gore was probably the better pick even though he didn’t receive as much fanfare pre draft. Doug said he preferred Gore over Green. His comparison between Gore and Greene has thus far turned out to be correct as Gore is currently the #2 prospect at FG while Greene is #100.

        “Personally, I’d rank MacKenzie Gore ahead of Hunter Greene, but will listen to both sides of the argument. Gore’s secondary pitches are all significantly more advanced than those of Hunter Greene and while he doesn’t throw as hard, the overall package as a pitcher is just better and it’s not as if he doesn’t have plenty of upside to go with the already advanced abilities he is showing.”

      • Doug Gray

        At the time of the draft I held that opinion. From the first time I saw Greene in person, my mind was changed. The injury hasn’t changed that for me. Greene’s just a different kind of dude.

      • AC

        Greene signed for a then record amount of money. Nothing Cincinnatians hate more than rich athletes. Ask Joey.

    • Old Big Ed

      No high school player from the 2017 draft has a positive bWAR in MLB. The only two who have made it are Trevor Rogers of the Marlins (who is 21 months older than Greene) and Jo Adell of the Angels. Adell figures to be very good, but in 132 PAs last year, he had a .478 OPS. (Jose Garcia is a year older than Adell, but also missed a full season due to Cuban immigration issues, and struggled in 2020 in very similar fashion.)

  5. SultanofSwaff

    There’s a good video circulating on Twitter about every 100+mph pitch in baseball last year. Suffice to say, the results disproportionately favor the pitcher.

    Greene is going to be a monster like JR Richard, and by that I mean the results will appear but we have to be patient because power pitchers take a little longer to settle in. And hey, if he doesn’t develop a changeup at worst you have a the second coming of Chapman, a multiple all-star. Maybe not what you’d hope for from a #2 overall pick, but certainly not a bust.

    • DaveCT

      Greene requires time to develop. Its simply unrealistic to expect him to have built the necessary innings not to mention multiple pitches to succeed. Dude has, what, a short stint of game action at Lo-A? With his character and work ethic he’ll find his way just fine.

  6. MK

    Since it looks like India is going to be on the opening day roster as well as Biddle or Finnegan having a very good chance who would be the players most likely to be DFAed to open a 40-man spot. I also assume Payton will make the team at least until Shogo is ready to go.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Really like Naquin over Payton. He looks healthy and that’s revealing a a much better combination of athleticism in the OF and power at the plate. Looks primed to have a good season. Not sure there’s a place in the game anymore for slap hitting speed guys who can’t throw.

      • MK

        Picked Payton because he is on 40-man and Naquin is not

      • DaveCT

        I’d take both if they weren’t left handed hitters. I’m off the Aquino bandwagon though he’s probably got a spot as Castellano’s defensive replacement and RH pinch hitter.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t have the roster in front of me, but are you accounting for the 60-day injured list that’s going to be allow the team to create 2 spots with Bailey and Solomon hitting that 60-day designation?

  7. MK

    Don’t want Castellanos to have another tizzy fit taking him out for defense.