The Cincinnati Reds announced on Monday night that top pitching prospect Hunter Greene will have Tommy John surgery after suffering a setback last week in Arizona. Greene initially injured his elbow last July with the Dayton Dragons. He had a partial tear in his UCL at the time and was shut down. After being diagnosed, Greene opted for injections and rehab rather than Tommy John surgery. Here’s Reds President of Baseball Operations addressing the media during the Brewers vs Reds game tonight.

It was in late October where Hunter Greene proclaimed that he was 100% and feeling great after rehabbing his elbow. The Reds have had success in rehabbing partially torn UCL’s, finding success with both Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen over the past few seasons. That day, though, Will Carroll noted that Greene had one of the larger tears to go the biological route rather than surgery.

Things seemed to be going well for Hunter Greene over his time while rehabbing in Goodyear during the winter and spring. On March 23rd he threw against hitters on the back fields, which you can watch here. Things seemed to be going well. The next time out though, is when he felt something while warming up and was shut down and then examined. The MRI showed a new tear

The surgery will be done by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. He’s the same doctor who performed the surgery on Shohei Ohtani last year. He’s also the team doctor for the Dodgers, and the NFL Rams. His client list is quite extensive and also includes former Red Johnny Cueto.

For Hunter Greene it means he’s going to miss all of the 2019 season. And it also very likely means he’s going to miss the first half of the 2020 season, too, before getting back on the mound.

The delay in opting for surgery is undoubtedly going to be brought up. There are going to be questions asked aplenty about it. We need to be sure to remember a few things. First is that the player decides the plan of action, not the team or the doctor. Second is that Greene, and the Reds, seemed to believe that he was 100% heading into spring training. The pitcher said as much in multiple places, and the team noted that he was not being held back at various times throughout the winter and spring. Third, as noted by Dick Williams in the video above – the injury suffered last week “was new damage that had occurred to the ligament”.

With all of that said above, opting for rehab was not the wrong choice simply because in the end it didn’t work out. There was risk and reward involved. If the rehab worked, Hunter Greene throws 100-120 innings this season and never looks back. If it didn’t work then his timeline now versus having the surgery last August is pushed back by half-of-a-season. Your mileage may vary on this opinion.

Here’s what Hunter Greene just posted on twitter:

63 Responses

  1. AirborneJayJay

    At first I thought it was an April’s fool joke. Then realized it was killer news. The Reds should now look at least to moving him back to SS. Start to develop his bat instead. Give it a couple of years and take dome stress off of his elbow while strengthening it. They can always move him back to pitching.
    Not saying that should be the prescribed course, but they should keep that option handy.

    • Doug Gray

      He’s 19-years-old. They shouldn’t explore anything but pitching for a long time.

    • Wes

      He’s the 31st ranked prospect as a pitcher and 310th as a ss.

  2. Simon Cowell

    Devastating news to a franchise that needs good press releases. Heart breaking. Somebody needs to figure out the TJ epidemic. Not as bad nor as obvious as the NFL concussion epidemics but certainly MLB can launch an all out war to reduce TJ from future generations.

    • Big Ed

      I don’t see how, Simon. There is no evolutionary reason for UCLs to be strong enough to withstand the force required to slow down an arm that just released a baseball at 101 mph.

      If baseball rewards (competitively and financially) supernatural velocity, then it is going to continue to have a rash of UCL injuries.

      I know Doug has disagreed, but Greene’s throwing 19 pitches at 100+ in the Futures Game was ill-advised. Greene needs to sit at 94 to 95, which would protect him, while giving him more command and movement. On a very few pitches per game, he could ramp it up to 98. His model ought to be Justin Verlander, who has roughly the same size, physique and athleticism.

      • The Rage

        His delivery is flawed. That is what does it.

  3. kevinz

    Horrible News. Hope Get well soon. Top 5 picks so far quite injury Prone. Hate to see it. Senzel Greene both have crazy Talent.

  4. Wes

    I have always been a fan of the pick. Greene was compared to Harper and Strasburg and had super star status. Not who I would have picked and never spoke out against it until now….

    He was adamant he didn’t want to come to cincy. He wanted to stay on the west coast almost to the tune of passing on the biggest signing bonus in major league history to pass on coming to cincy. Whispers were reported he preferred San Diego but him signing literally at the last second says it was WAY stronger than any whisper.

    Doug’s guy was Kyle Wright. He made his mlb debut today. He’s been spotty but he’s atleast in the bigs.

    Brendan McKay was the other noteworthy college pitcher and he should debut this season as well. He was called the babe Ruth of college baseball and played his college ball at Louisville. Louisville has an enormous fan base that supports their players forever which would have additionally faired well for reds…he has pitched well and should have been reds pick !

    As far as team needs- then and now they obviously need more quality pitching. They had a rebuild time in mind and this was it but instead of taking a pitcher who would be ready this year they rolled the dice and lost out big time. Poor decision making from the top ! And what’s even worse is when they try to damage control news and come across as misleading their fan base.

    My guess is Greene never pitches in cincy. He wears out his welcome and is moved for pennies on the dollar or never recovers to make it all the way to the bigs.

    • Greg

      I think that is a big leap.
      90% chance he will recover.
      Reds have too much invested to give up.

  5. seadog

    I am not sure what to say…Here we go again. I was vilified on this site 2 years ago when the Reds drafted Hunter Greene. Because I said “HE WILL NEVER SEE THE FIELD AS A RED AT GABP”. I hate it for this kid. He is a great kid. But, You can’t throw “pitch” as people said 96/97/98/99 as a 16/17 year old. It flat kills your arm–period. Hi is not a SHORT-STOP, or anything else. As Doug said, he is 19 he has to make it as a pitcher. My thoughts–As I said 2 years ago–He never will. He has made his $$/name. He will never see the hill at GABP.

    I and my dog (he is 11/blind) could draft better than the Reds. I am a HUGE reds fan. But Wow have we hit a low– I HATE SOCCER my worst fear is coming true FC Cincinnati will drawl better than the Reds…

    Just shoot me and the dog now—-UGH

    • DHud

      Having TJ at 19 hardly equates to will never pitch for the Reds. Geez, dude

    • KyWilson1

      I also wasn’t a Greene fan, or McKay for that matter. I wanted Lewis, Adell, or Gore. But with the success rates of TJ, and his relative youth, the surgery and recovery should be smoother. Sucks to lose 2 years of development though.

  6. Amarillo

    The best player in a draft year gets injured.

    “The Reds are bad at drafting and should never have taken the best player available”

    Uhh…OK

  7. Earmbrister

    Wow people, exhale. Pitchers get hurt quite frequently. TJ surgery is no longer a death sentence for a pitcher’s career. More and more pitchers come back stronger than ever. The kid is young and is a phenomenal athlete. Chances are, he’ll b fine.

    I’m with Amarillo on this.

  8. Shamrock

    I’m glad it’s not my money.
    Two of the most outrageous signings I have seen recently:
    Alfredo Rodriguez and Hunter Greene

  9. Simon Cowell

    I understand both sides of the camp here. People should not be upset about people being upset. Have some common sense for crying out loud.

    There were plenty of red flags with Hunter Greene and the Reds ignored them. That can’t be denied. The potential was worth the risk from their perspective. No need to get choppy or holier than thou towards those that are irate about this happening.

    I also understand those that are in the view that the Reds did everything possible to prevent this from happening. It isn’t like they overworked the kid. The Reds picked the best player available when they selected Greene. To date, it hasn’t worked according to plan.

    Some on here imply that TJ is just a bump in the road. Well to that I disagree. Sure many come back from TJ and Hunter’s age is probably in his favor with this surgery. But just how many bounce back from TJ and go on to lead all-star type of careers? Not that we ever knew the type of pitcher Hunter would have been prior to surgery but now to claim that he is going to be an all-star is quite misguided. I don’t think he should even be ranked in the top prospects until he demonstrates both health and ability during gameplay. That’s my opinion but I’m guessing Doug will leave him right where he is at for the next 2 years.

    • Mike

      Maybe the people who are upset about people being upset are really upset that it’s the same 3-4 people being upset about everything and in every thread. I rarely post but I used to enjoy reading the comments on this site because they were mostly positive and pragmatic, not anymore. It’s slowly becoming like every other comment section, a few internet angry folks ruining any conversation that isn’t a complaint-fest.

      • MikeD

        I agree Mike! I enjoy this site tremendously, not only for Doug’s excellent coverage, but for most of the insight. However some posters have become predictable in their negativity.

        The risk of injury is high among pitchers who throw this hard, but hopefully by the grace of God, Hunter will recover and have the opportunity to reach his potential. I rather have him on our team than not.

      • Jonathan

        @ Mike – agree. I’m getting frustrated by the same people claiming that the “sky is falling” and who have a very narrow mindset.

      • Pokey Reese's Red Hot Bat

        +1

        I use to read this site as much for the comments as Doug’s insights. Below the line here use to be informed, nuanced, constructive and grounded in reality.

        Those posters are increasingly being drowned out by bores incapable of perceiving there may be shades of grey. Everything is the worst ever, every Reds’ decision is terrible, every view of theirs is absolute with no awareness of their own fallibility as they are convinced of their own superiority.

        I’ve no issue with people challenging the Reds’ decisions or Doug’s opinions but there are a few posters on here who need to learn how to do so constructively, with humility and be open to the fact that they may be wrong as they are currently spoiling it for the majority.

    • KyWilson1

      To name a few: Jake DeGrom(reigning CY Young), John Smoltz, Rich Hill, Stephen Strausberg, Adam Wainwright, Jose Fernandez(RIP), Jordan Zimmerman, Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter, David Wells(had surgery while in minors),

      • MA

        Every single pitcher MiLB or MLB, college, high school whatever runs the risk of a shoulder or elbow injury. Some will have the surgery and be fine. Others will not. To not take a chance in the draft on a generational talent just because he may get injured is ridiculous. I for one am completely satisfied with the selection, how he initially handled and now the full surgery. I hope for him and baseball that he realizes his potential. He is only 19 and has his entire career ahead of him. This is just a bump in the road. If it was going to happen I would rather it now than in the middle of a pennant race a few years from now.

      • Earmbrister

        I think the answer Ma is: the Reds shouldn’t draft pitchers, particularly high in the draft. They should draft pitchers no earlier than the 5th round, and only draft position players at the top of the draft.

        And then when they need pitching, they should sign the top free agents (with all of the cash they have as one of the big market teams). Because when it comes to free agency, pitchers don’t get paid much, due to them being injury prone and all.

        Or maybe we can convert Phillip Ervin, he had a perfect 0.00 ERA in that Mets game last year.

        Or maybe, you draft (like Ma suggested) generational talent when you have the rare chance to do so.

        As for all the Monday morning QBs, give me a break. The Reds have been drafting well, and Senzel, Traamel, Vlad, and Greene has will be starring soon enough

  10. IndyRedsFan

    What I love is his Twitter post. Just another example of what a high character individual this kid is. How many of us would be that positive after bad news like this?

    I can’t say for certain that he’ll have a great big league career (I suspect he will), but I can say that I’m rooting for him.

    • IMHO

      Agreed. He has a really great support system, too. He is a product of his family… a really great family. Wish him a lot of luck.

      • Doc

        And, he will be back before he would have even been draftable as a college graduate. With a sound arm he could still hit MLB at about the same age as college pitchers. Leake was MLB at, what, 22. Greene misses two years, comes back sound, spends 1-2 years moving throught the minors and hits MLB age 23.

  11. Nep O'Tism

    He always seemed like a really likable and excellent person anytime I have ever seen an interview of his, but for all of that, I really have no idea why the Reds didn’t trade him when they had the chance. They’ve avoided adding both Christian Yelich and Corey Kluber to their team the last two years at least in part to keep Hunter Greene.

    Now he is going to be shut down for at least a season and a half, and he will be a Single A pitcher in his fourth year in the minors, having not really pitched for 2 calendar years, and having totaled 72.2 IP with a 4.95 ERA.

    That’s not great.

    BA and BP both dropped him on their prospect rankings pretty hard (#29 -> #57, and #39 -> #75, respectively) and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him slip off the Top 100 list entirely now.

    If Dick Williams is telling the truth and this is a separate tear unrelated to the previous one (I am dubious, but lets say so), that would mean two UCL tears in less than a year. That is not a future recipe for success and I have to think it’s really time to see him as a Shortstop. Wasn’t he supposed to be a 1st round pick at SS as well? I imagine if he went to SS, he would be ready to play next season.

  12. The Duke

    This is what everyone feared when he opted for the non-surgical rehab. Some that chance up aces, but sometimes it’s deuces. Royce Lewis was the guy I really wanted in that draft, but he went 1-1. I was on board with the Greene pick but was also high on Gore, Adell, Haseley, and Hiura. Haseley has been disappointing so far, but the other 3 all look real good, especially Gore. I remember Doug was high on Wright, I didn’t care much for Wright or McKay as a pitcher. 20/20 hindsight we take Gore there, but I really can’t fault the Reds for taking Greene, and his career isn’t done by any means, but it’s going to be a long wait. I’d say the earliest we could see him in a big league uniform would be late 2022, but mid 2023 seems more likely, if not 2024.

    The question I have now is that if this pushes the Reds to be aggressive and go after a top FA pitcher next offseason. Gerrit Cole is 28 now, would the Reds run the risk on a mega contract on another pitcher after how bad the Bailey deal turned out? Cole is likely going to get Sale money. Would the Reds even consider a 5 year, $150+ million deal?

    • KyWilson1

      This was my main worry with the rehab. If it was already torn, “sprained”, its going to tear again. Why not get ahead of it and not lose 2 years of development. 100% was with you on those draft picks. I wanted Lewis, Adell, Gore, in that order.

      • rhayex

        I wanted Gore then Greene. Hindsight is 20/20, but reading part of Gore’s scouting report made me think he was going to be amazing (at the time, he was said to have 4-5 plus pitches with control).

  13. Patrick

    I have been a big proponent of trading him since the beginning of last year because the Reds have shown that they have not done well with developing high school pitchers and I have not like the way Greene has been handled from day 1 by the Reds.

    He should have been dealt for a Kluber or Realmuto.

    When he comes back he should be traded as soon as his value is back up.

  14. Brad

    While I was excited for the pick when it was made, I also was in the camp of not drafting arms in top 10 or so. Get best hitters, take chances on late arms and acquire arms through signings or trades.

  15. David T

    Did anyone notice the name of the doctor? For a second it made me hope this was an April Fools joke. Drop one letter and I laugh this off as a joke (Dr. Neal ElAttrache)

  16. IMHO

    In my honest opinion is the kid is 19 years old and he will bounce back. Hopefully he will be the best possible pitcher at any level on whichever team has faith in his ability.

    I have some questions:
    If he were to start this season, would have gone to Dayton or Daytona?
    Who do you think they “substituted” for him?

    I’m thinking if it were Dayton, they put Lyon Richardson on the team because they already knew what was going to take place.

    If it were Daytona, I guess that’s why they acquired Diomar Lopez?….

    No faith in the EST kids?

    When did homegrown not become a choice to lift up?

    • The Duke

      Greene was likely heading to Daytona if he wasn’t hurt, but he likely wasn’t going to start the season on opening day anyway.

    • Doug Gray

      Was going to Daytona, but was going to begin the year in extended spring training.

      • PDX Brett

        Doug, do you think Greene’s setback increases the likelihood the Reds select a pitcher with their first pick in the draft?

      • The Duke

        It shouldn’t. Never draft for need. I’m on the Hunter Bishop train. OF from Arizona State who has 15 HR already. The pitching option there for a college pitcher would be Nick Lodollo.

  17. Scott

    It’s going to be a long time before we see him in a Reds uniform. He has very little baseball experience. It will be interesting to see if he can overcome this stumbling block along with the experience needed to be successful in professional baseball. Has he ever pitched in a meaningful game? Is situation is a very long way from a MLB rotation.

    • Doc

      Isn’t there a Braves pitcher, drafted 2016 out of high school, rose through four levels last year, including MLB at the end of the year, and has started for the Braves this year? Actually its a rhetorical question since I heard his interview yesterday on MLB radio.

      How fast he moves after surgery, time will tell. How slowly the Reds bring him along, different issue.

  18. Bubba Woo

    People need to relax. If he doesn’t pitch til July 2020, he’ll be in the same place he’d be at if he had decided to go to UCLA. One of the comments referenced Strasburg, a COLLEGE pitcher who had the same amount of hype as Greene. He blew out his UCL as well, but has gone on to be an above average Starter.

    • The Duke

      He will need to build up his innings though. If he can get back in early July 2020 (15 months) that should give him time to get about 50-60 IP the rest of that season, I would assume he comes back in Daytona. You could then come back in 2021 starting in AA Chattanooga and hope to get him 100-120 before shutting him down, then start him in AAA in 2022 and get to the 150 IP mark or so between there and the Reds if he gets the call, but he’ll likely need to be shut down at some point. Possibly get him to about 140 IP and then shift him to the bullpen for the rest of the year if he is on the big club and open the 2023 season in the big league rotation. That would probably be a best case scenario.

    • Nep O'Tism

      That isn’t really a true comparison, Bubba. Green will have thrown 70-ish innings of nearly 5 ERA ball in the last 4 years with two separate UCL tears. That is nothing like a pitcher coming out of college.

      • The Duke

        That’s pretty comparable to Scott Moss actually.

  19. SultanofSwaff

    His arm speed is elite even among the elite. What concerns me is that his elbow gave out in spite of such a carefully managed workload both in HS and the minors. I really wonder if he can place those same demands on his elbow and not expect to get injured.

  20. Norwood Nate

    Very sad news for Reds fans. Best of luck to Greene in surgery and recovery. I’m hoping his age will aid him in reaching a full recovery.

  21. Jon Ryker

    I would like it if they started drafting people who could get people out without overthrowing, and could make contact.

  22. Cguy

    People who didn’t think Greene would eventually need TJ surgery were a bit too optimistic. So the news wasn’t quite unexpected. On the other hand, it came at an inopportune time. First there’s Alex Wood’s stiff back, then Scooter’s injury, followed by Senzel’s bad slide. Now this disappointing news. It’s not that the sky’s falling- but there’s not much silver lining lately either.

    • KyWilson1

      You could say the opposite about Chris Sale. His pitching style screams elbow issues. Every body is different, mechanics can help, but they arent the end all be all.

  23. BromleyJake

    Completely sucks for Hunter. Seems like a good kid. If ultimately Hunter and his family(as I’m sure they’re included on big decisions regarding his career) opted to go no surgery then there is little the organization could have done about it. I’m seeing a lot of critical observations about so called “flaws” in his pitching motion. I’m no pitching expert but I don’t suspect those critics are either. If he is able to get back on track and make it to the Big’s in 2022 or 2023, he will still only be 22 or 23. Not horrible.

    What I think this does shine a light on is the need for the Reds to acquire more pitching prospects with TOR potential. Certainly easier said then done, but after Hunter, the farm system is pretty barren on elite pitching prospects.

    There was a time when the Reds Farm system boasted Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto at the same time.

  24. MK

    Glad they had sense enough to let Dr.Elattrache do it instead of forcing Kremcheck. Elattrache Is Director of Jobe/Kerlan institute and considered one of top in the country.

  25. Bob Anderson

    Late, but it sucks it was a mild grade 2 sprain. That is something he was drafted with fwiw. He probably needed a platelet injection in spring 2018 and rest. Grade 1 sprains don’t necessarily hurt…..