The Cincinnati Reds selected high school shortstop/pitcher Hunter Greene with the second overall pick Monday night in the MLB Draft.
“I’ve been blessed to be in a position like this and have great people around me,” Greene said. “It’s amazing to be a part of something like this, and it’s special. It’s been my dream since I was 7.”
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Greene hit .324 with six home runs and 28 RBIs as a senior for Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif. At 17, he routinely has hit triple digits on the radar gun, and posted a 0.75 ERA with 43 strikeouts and four walks in 28 innings last season.
The Reds are listing him as both a shortstop and pitcher.
“We do not see prospects like this very often,” said Reds President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams. “The physical talent is special, but he also exhibits great intangibles. We enjoyed getting to know Hunter and his family during this process. His parents should be very proud of the job they have done. We are excited for the opportunity to bring him into our organization.”
At a time when African-American participation in baseball is dwindling, Greene, who was a part of MLB’s Urban Youth Academy in its second season of existence in 2007, said he’s eager to embrace the role of ambassador.
”It’s something that’s really important to myself and my family,” Greene said. “I was given a great opportunity at the age of 7 to be the the Urban Youth Academy that just built a great foundation and allowed me to become a major-league citizen, which is something a lot of young kids and athletes need to take advantage of have a great time doing.
“It’s something I really want to help out with anything I can do and just go to ball clubs and little leagues and just talk to them and inspire them to be the greatest they can be,” he continued. “It’s something I’d love to do.”
The Reds have selected a right-handed pitcher with their first pick five times in the last nine drafts, but Greene is the first since the team picked Nick Howard 19th overall in 2014.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where I get to go out and start my career and have a blast with a great ballclub and a great group of guys, so I’m pumped,” Greene said. “The Reds are awesome. It’s a great ballclub and a beautiful stadium and a great fan base, so I’m excited.”
Minnesota drafted Royce Lewis, a shortstop from Jserra Catholic High School in California, with the first overall pick.
The Reds grabbed another shortstop with their second pick of the night, taking Jeter Downs from Monsignor Edward Pace in Miami with the second pick in Competitive Balance Round A (32nd overall).
The 6-foot, 180-pound Downs was ranked as the ninth best shortstop prospect by Baseball America.
The Reds wrapped up the opening day by selecting Wake Forest outfielder Stuart Fairchild in the secound round (38th overall).
The draft resumes Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. Rounds 11-40 will be held Wednesday.