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Hunter Greene Named Opening Day Starter

Hunter Greene Named Opening Day Starter

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Hunter Greene gets the nod as Reds Opening Day starter

On Thursday, the Reds made their first major decision toward Opening Day by naming Hunter Greene as their starter. He joins fellow promising young starters Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft in a rotation that appears more balanced than last year.

The 23-year-old registered 4.0 scoreless innings in Cactus League baseball and is one of the most intriguing players on this roster. Let's take a closer look at his primary pitches and what the Reds can expect from him in 2023.

1. Fastball

The Reds have finally found their man, and it appears that Hunter Greene will be leading the team into its future. After an impressive Cactus League debut on Thursday, Greene was named as the team's Opening Day starter against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday afternoon.

Greene has quickly emerged as a top-tier pitching prospect during his minor league tenure, which helped explain why the Cincinnati Reds selected him second overall in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Over that span, he's demonstrated a versatile arsenal of pitches that could propel him to major-league starting pitcher status. But it is his fastball which stands out the most.

On a recent outing against the Chicago Cubs, Greene demonstrated his fastball's power. He threw 4.0 scoreless innings on Cactus League ground and only allowed five hits.

As a starter, throwing a fastball that can reach 100 mph or above is paramount. This is especially true if you plan on competing for a starting job in the majors.

It's essential for Greene to keep his fastball on the outer part of the plate, away from the middle. Hitters tend to cheat here, so it's essential that he continues developing his ability to find and maintain speed on his fastball.

However, this hasn't always been the case. As a rookie last year, Greene often threw fastballs outside the zone with speeds exceeding 99 mph.

With time, he's improved in controlling the ball and throwing more of his heater in the middle of the plate. This has allowed him to improve his strike-out rate on that pitch - which is partly why he was able to go deep into a start last weekend against the Dodgers.

Since May 10, his seven starts have produced an average of 3.20 ERA and 2.47 FIP with a 31% strikeout rate - numbers which would have seemed unattainable during his early major league career.

2. Slider

The Cincinnati Reds have officially named Hunter Greene their Opening Day starter for the 2022 season. As expected, this is an enormous honor for Greene who was selected in the first round of the 2022 draft and who demonstrated his 100-plus mph fastball, emotional intensity on the mound, and commitment to community involvement during his debut last April.

On his debut, Greene pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed just one hit. Despite a string of tough starts during August, he managed to maintain that momentum throughout his final eight starts; posting an ERA of 2.75 over those final eight outings.

Greene has worked diligently to incorporate more off-speed pitches into his repertoire. Last year, he threw a slider 40.9 percent of the time - an impressive statistic for such a young pitcher.

Last season, he only threw his changeup 5.3 percent of the time; however, he has stated that he is ready to take that next step and throw it more frequently. With some success so far, he now needs to focus on getting more swings and misses from it.

He's still working on that, so hopefully that will come together during the 2022 season and we'll see where things go from there.

If this occurs, it could mark the conclusion of their long-term quest to build a winning team and the start of their pursuit of a World Series championship. This is an historic moment both for the franchise and its fans.

If the Reds can keep Greene healthy and develop his other pitches, he has the potential to be more than an Opening Day starter. He could become an ace that helps turn around their fortunes.

The Reds will need to exercise patience as they develop their other young pitchers, such as Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft. It may take some time for them to become established as the cornerstone of the starting rotation, but the Reds can rest assured that they possess an impressive group of young talent and that their core will be stronger than ever in 2022.

3. Changeup

On Opening Day against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on March 30, 2013, the Reds will have a new starter - Hunter Greene, 23 years old and one of their youngest. He made his first start last season against Toronto and looks to build upon that success this season.

At 17, when the Reds selected Hunter Greene, scouts noticed his high-octane fastball that made him one of the top pitching prospects in the draft class. At 17, he made Sports Illustrated's cover and quickly gained notoriety around baseball for his triple-digit fastball.

Over time, scouts began to notice more about Greene. Last season he threw 20 fastballs at or above 100 mph - the eighth most by any starting pitcher since Statcast began tracking data in 2008.

Greene's high-octane, elite-velocity fastball is his signature pitch, but he also offers other pitches to work around it. For instance, his excellent slider serves both to keep hitters off balance and set up a fastball that will put the ball in play.

He also has a changeup that's often overlooked as an effective secondary option. While it lacks the movement of either a slider or fastball, it still provides something unique to left-handed batters.

Though he hasn't used it much, Greene's changeup could prove valuable during his first professional season. If he can use it effectively to keep hitters off-balance, Greene should be able to maintain the same elite velocity he has become known for throughout his career.

After being battered in his debut on May 5th in Milwaukee, Greene rediscovered the power of his fastball and slider. Over his next two starts, he allowed only three runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings - including a complete game performance against Pittsburgh Pirates that culminated with a 1-0 victory.

Greene is one of baseball's most promising young pitchers and the Reds are thrilled to have him in their lineup. Team belief that his talent will help them win games, with manager David Bell already impressed by what Greene can do. As the newest member of Cincinnati's rotation, Greene is eager to take on any challenge presented his way.

4. Changeup/Slider

Since the Cincinnati Reds selected Hunter Greene in 2011, there has been an expectation that he would one day start for their franchise. His 100 mph fastball, emotional presence on the mound and dedication to community service made him a potential franchise player.

Last season, he earned his chance and impressed Reds manager David Bell with his poise, confidence and readiness to learn. Now 23 years old, he will start for the Reds against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day on March 30 and hopes to lead them to their first winning season in a decade.

Recently, Greene has seen the emergence of his secondary offerings and is now able to keep hitters off balance and forcing them into making contact for base hits. His primary pitch is a hard fastball, but he also has two other pitches - a wipeout slider and changeup - that he can utilize as well.

On Saturday, Paul Goldschmidt employed his slider effectively in his debut against the Braves, keeping hitters off balance with its 20 inch drop in flight. It produced a swing-and-miss with Goldschmidt at bat.

The slider has long been seen as a work-in-progress compared to the fastball and slide, but Greene has made significant strides this year. Fangraphs rates it a 40, and Greene has already developed a harder variation that sits more in the low 80s and can fool hitters with its tight break.

In his first two starts, Greene threw the slider 18 of 23 times and it was a reliable two-strike pitch. He used it eight times to strike out batters, but it proved most effective as an out pitch when he kept them off balance.

Greene only threw the changeup 5.3% of the time last season, so he has plenty of room to improve with this pitch. If he can consistently locate and get a good break on it, then it will become an inviting pitch that hitters will work for; potentially helping him become as successful a pitcher as Johnny Cueto or Luis Castillo were when they first entered MLB.

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