There were a few big questions about ongoings in the Cincinnati Reds farm system this year, but one of them revolved around Hunter Greene. The Reds #2 overall pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft seemed like he was heading to Dayton by all reports. The bigger question wasn’t where he’d show up, but when? At just 18-years-old there would understandably be some caution on pitching him in the cold month of April in the Midwest League, where I’ve personally stood in the photo well while it’s been snowing before. And there’s also the organization wanting to be cautious with the workload of innings that they will put on his arm at such a young age.

I was able to confirm early this evening, and then as I was typing that first paragraph, it seemed that Hunter Greene confirmed it himself in a tweet, that he will begin the year in Dayton with the Dragons when they begin their season. It was early in spring training where Greene had mentioned he was hoping to begin the year with Dayton rather than hang back in extended spring training. It appears that he will be getting that wish.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s going to be a season in which the Cincinnati Reds will want to control how many innings that are put on Hunter Greene’s arm. He’s not just young, but he’s very young. The right handed pitcher will be younger than some of the high school players selected in the upcoming draft. Over the last few seasons, teams – and not just the Reds – have pretty much kept high school pitchers in their first full season under 100.0 innings for the entire first season.

In the 2016 draft there were nine high school pitchers taken in the first round. All of them were at least 19-years-old when they played last season. Only one of them topped 100.0 innings – the Braves Joey Wentz. He threw 131.2 innings. Only two others topped 83.0 innings. In the 2015 draft it was more of the same. Of the eight pitchers taken in the 1st round from the high school ranks two guys topped 100.0 innings. The Braves Mike Soroka threw 143.0 innings, suggesting that the Braves are working on a different plan of bringing along young pitchers than other organizations are. Jake Woodford of the Cardinals threw 108.2 innings. Worth noting that the Braves did also draft Kolby Allard in 2015, and like Greene, he was a 17-year-old when selected. They limited him to 87.2 innings that first full season as a professional.

How will the Reds monitor Hunter Greene’s innings in 2018?

While I haven’t spoken to anyone with the Reds regarding a specific plan for Hunter Greene, the same people are in charge that have been for the last few years. And that group has been cautious with young pitchers. I’d be very surprised if they allowed Greene to throw more than 100.0 innings on the season. With a 140 game schedule in Dayton, and with a 5-man rotation, going every 5th game would mean 28 starts. That’s unlikely to happen. The organization will likely use a few off days to skip a start here or there, then try to use the All-Star break to push back a start.

On top of getting creative with limiting the starts from a full-season of 28 to something closer to 20, the team will also likely look at limiting the number of innings within those starts. While innings are one way to track things, pitches come into play as well. There could be nights where 6.0 innings can be a breeze, while 4.0 innings could require the same number of pitches and be a struggle. How the Reds go about controlling all of this is going to be very interesting.

33 Responses

  1. B-town Fan

    Doug do think Greene finishes the year in Daytona or stays with the Dragons all year.

    • Doug Gray

      I think because of the innings, they’ll keep him in Dayton all year.

      The big question is, what do you do if he’s just simply destroying the Midwest League?

      • The Duke

        I posed that question to JJ Cooper some time over the winter and his thoughts were that if HG is just destroying guys with just his fastball in the MWL then they may move him up so he is challenged. Lets not put the cart before the horse though, regardless of how good those spring training starts looked.

    • Wes

      Limiting his innings is smart but I wouldn’t hold him back. If his performance warrants a promotion then move him up. Lots of pitching studs are still at inning limits when they hit big leagues. If Greene hits the show at 20 in 2020 and is limited to 140/150 innings that’s only a good thing for organization.

      2018 low A and high A
      2019 highA and AA
      2020 service time in AAA then the show.

      If his performance warrants the promotions

  2. MK

    Romero at same age threw 136 innings at Dayton last year.

    • Gilbert Keith Chesterton

      Although Romero built up to that with 70 IP and 50 IP in the previous 2 seasons.

      Greene barely threw last year, so I don’t see the Reds wanting to jump him up that drastically.

  3. Brad

    Hope to see Jacob Heatherly in Dayton as well. I still think misisng on Tommy Mace will come back to bite the Reds. I know timing of Greene’s signing was reason they didn’t sign Mace. But a critical miss. Imagine those 3 as HS SP in one draft class.

    • AirborneJayJay

      It wasn’t so much the timing of Greene’s signing, as it was the amount. Greene, or his reps, wanted to set the signing bonus record and they did. And I am not going to be-grudge him on that. None of the top 2017 Reds draft picks took below slot money, so that they could have signed Mace. Downs and Fairchild didn’t take less either.
      However, the year before, Nick Senzel took less than slot money, at the same draft position as Greene, so the Reds could sign Taylor Trammell to a well above slot limit bonus. The Reds more than likely would not have signed Trammell if it wasn’t for above slot money. When you think about Trammell being in the Reds organization, you have to thank the selflessness of Nick Senzel for helping to make it happen.
      Not meant as a slam against Greene, but as more of an atta-boy for Senzel.

      • RobL

        Senzel didn’t take less than slot for the purpose of signing Trammell. He did it because that was the amount him and the Reds agreed to before the draft. He wanted to guarantee that money and not risk sliding down and losing more money.

        And even if Senzel and the Reds didn’t come to an agreement before the draft. Senzel had significantly less leverage in negotiating due to being a college junior. College seniors have no leverage.

      • Doug Gray

        A college senior as good as Nick Senzel would have been, would have had the leverage. It’s the college seniors that aren’t 1st/2nd round talents that have no leverage. Those guys just happen to be rare because usually the guys with the talent to be that kind of dude are guys who are also drafted as juniors and offered good money and sign.

      • Doug Gray

        If Jacob Heatherly begins his season in Double-A this year, I don’t know what I’ll eat, but I will eat something wildly stupid on camera.

      • Maddog

        I ll make the 6 hour drive to watch or u can eat it down here at the game.

  4. IndyRedsFan

    Nice shout-out by Hunter to Doug in the tweet.

    • mark l

      that wasn’t just a shout out…. that was a full fledged endorsement! Pretty cool

      • citizen54

        He seems to have a great attitude as well as being a team player.

  5. The Duke

    Exciting that he’ll be starting the year off in Dayton, can’t wait to read the recaps and whatever video makes its way to the interwebs. I hope they can manage the workload so that if Dayton does make the playoffs that he can pitch in them. Maybe something like 3 starts on, 1 start off could work?

  6. Jonathan

    I am hoping to see HG when the Dragons come to SB in May/June!! :)

  7. AirborneJayJay

    This is great news. MK must be doing back flips. Doug too. That will be an easy trip up to Dayton for Doug a couple of times a month. That place is going to be a crazy place on nights Greene pitches.
    I see 100 IP’s as the limit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they bump him up a little to 110-120. I can see Greene going 4 innings per start early, the first 5-6 weeks, then bump it up to 5 per outing and maybe go 6 if he is dealing. I don’t know how well the Dayton stadium is equipped, whether it has any pitch tracking systems. It’d be nice to get an early baseline on his spin rates on his pitches and then compare as the season goes along.
    Any chance they would shut him down as a starter at 100 IP’s or whatever pre-determined limit they have, then move him to the bullpen to maybe close and get in 1 inning 2-3 times a week for the last few weeks and any post-season?

  8. HavaKlu

    Just to stir the pot—–I’m of the Nolan Ryan belief that today’s pitchers are babied and that they should throw more , not less. Where is the research that says today’s system of limiting innings and controlling pitch counts leads to less injuries? The astounding number of TJ surgeries today under the controlled system makes you wonder. I think Greene would be perfectly capable of throwing 120 innings this year with no undue fear of injury.

    • Doug Gray

      Here’s the problem with the Nolan Ryan theory – it’s probably something that needs to start at age 10, not age 18. By then it’s too late. And, then there’s also the fact that, well, throwing today is a lot different than it was when Nolan Ryan and his peer group were throwing. Not only in the Majors, but in the minors, and in high school, and in middle school.

      • The Duke

        It’s kind of like Usain Bolt telling kids they should just run faster too.

      • HavaKlu

        Please explain how throwing today is a lot different!!

      • Doug Gray

        Well, let’s start when you are 9-years-old. You are no longer just playing knothole. You play both spring and summer ball. And both schedules are longer than the knothole schedule they played in 1975. Then you get into the competitive environment that is today, and you’ve got 11-year-olds throwing breaking balls because you have to win and be better, Tommy, because mommy and daddy think you’re getting a college scholarship. By the time you are 14-15, you are now traveling around, at least your geographical area for showcases on top of your high school and summer programs. Then add in the fact that the guys we’re talking about – the future professionals, are throwing harder at 17 than guys in the Majors were throwing even 25 years ago.

        When you add it all up, how players are brought up, throwing, is very, very different. Toss in the added stress of throwing harder, and throwing breaking balls sooner, and now it’s even more so.

      • HavaKlu

        Actually, despite pitch counts, kids may be throwing more today than they did 20 years ago because with the advent of travel ball many are playing for more than one team. College pitchers are pitching in sunmmer leagues, many after a full season of college ball. Entering pro ball, often brings a reduction in how much a pitcher throws instead of an increase and Ieads to a decrease in stamina—-could that be why we often see a high school pitcher’s velocity drop when he turns pro?
        And really, from my years of coaching and playing experience , I can assure you that kids of yesteryear threw plenty of breaking pitches.

      • Doug Gray

        They didn’t throw them as early in their careers. And they weren’t throwing them nearly as hard. That’s a very important factor.

      • Alan

        I remember reading a Greg Maddux interview in which he said he was told to mostly just throw fastballs and changeups when he was young, because, if he had legit prospect stuff, those would be enough to get high school hitters out. He was told to show the occasional breaking ball so that scouts knew he could spin it, but to save the stress on his arm and develop the rest of his arsenal under professional coaching. Seems like that approach worked for him.

  9. Tom

    When you look at where Finnegan and Desclafani are today (the DL), you can also notice they plowed through their first full season as starters in professional ball with little or no regulation of their innings total. They both jumped up over 100 innings over their prior year. This organization is too lenient when it comes to enforcing limits in favor of enthusiastic players who just want to play or not lose a spot. I hope Hunter throws no more than 70-80 innings but I can already see he’s headed for 110+.

  10. JPhillips

    There’s not enough research to be definitive, but what we have suggests the UCL can only take so many fastballs at 95+mph. Everybody is different, but for many the ligament can’t handle the repeated stress of throwing that fast.

    A study in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery found that while raw velocity does not presage future elbow issues, there is a connection between increased fastball usage and eventual Tommy John surgery to repair broken down ulnar collateral ligaments.

    “MLB pitchers who pitch a high percentage of fastballs may be at increased risk for UCL injury because pitching a higher percent of fastballs appears to be a risk factor for UCL reconstruction,” the study concludes.