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.