The Perfect Game National Showcase began Wednesday, with many of the top prospects in the 2017 class trying to establish themselves on the national scene. But the story of Day One was the exceptional performance of Southern California righthander Hunter Greene (Notre Dame High, Sherman Oaks, Calif.). Greene is as good of a two-way prospect as the draft has seen in quite some time.
During the infield/outfield workout, Greene showed the raw materials to potentially stick at shortstop. With graceful routes to the ball, Greene showed easy range to both sides. One fungo hit deep to his left looked like it would not be playable, at least for most high school infielders, but Greene glided over, just past the second base bag, scooped the ball, and effortlessly set his feet as he throw to first base. Greene has soft hands, and made playing shortstop look easy.
Then, he had arguably the best batting practice session of the day. Greene smoked line drives consistently, and he showed the ability to loft the ball deep over the wall in left field. Greene showed a fluid, repeatable swing. His hands start relatively quiet as he loads his hips with a leg kick that he times extremely well, with his hips firing just as his hands come through the hitting zone. Greene’s bat path is slightly downhill, geared for line drives as he extends his arms through impact. The ease of his swing was spectacular.
Then, Greene took the mound. Greene pitched earlier this week, and so he was limited to only one inning of work, but he made it count, needing just 10 pitches two induce two swinging strikeouts and a ground ball. His fastball worked at 92-94 mph (on Baseball America’s radar gun) with sinking life as it entered the hitting zone. TrackMan Live recorded six of the seven fastballs Greene threw; the lowest velocity recorded checked in at 93.1 mph, and the highest at 94.5 mph.
He threw three breaking balls. The first, in an 0-1 count, showed hard sweeping action and broke with two-plane movement. The next two had no clear breaking point, looking like Greene’s fastball from the time they left the hand until just a few feet before the plate, when they showed short horizontal break.
Greene’s delivery starts with an athletic, well-coordinated leg lift. He folds his front leg and brings his knee to the height of his sternum, and then his hands break just as his leg comes down and his lower half begins to generate torque. He has an easy arm action, with a slight wrap in the back and explosive arm speed as he fires through his three-quarters slot. Greene lands online and spins off his front toes as his back side comes through. He gets his torso extended over his front side, giving him additional extension towards home plate. His arm decelerates well, finishing across his body without recoil or violence, and his head stays still throughout the process.
At the plate in game action, Greene saw two pitches in as many at-bats. In his first plate appearance, facing a mid-80s lefthander, Greene aimed to stay back and drive the ball the opposite field, instead grounding out to first. In his second trip to the plate, Greene hit a ground ball to the left side of the infield and reached on an error.
The summer is just beginning, and it’s simply way too early to predict where players fit in the 2017 draft class, but Greene’s exemplary athleticism and two-way potential give him a chance to establish himself as a potential top pick.
Beyond Greene, several players stood out on Day One.
• Jordon Adell (Ballard High, Louisville, Ky.) could have the best measurable tools of any player in the class. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.19 seconds and showed plus arm strength in the outfield. Adell showed intriguing raw power in batting practice, pulling hard line drives and hitting a few home runs. There are some elements to Adell’s swing that could give him trouble making consistent contact, but he has the natural bat speed and athleticism to potentially make adjustments.
• Luis Aviles (Westminster Christian, Palmetto Bay, Fla.) had a strong showing on Day One. He doesn’t have the best arm strength by any means, but he showed soft hands and the potential to develop as a receiver behind the plate. Aviles showed well during batting practice, using his strong lower half well and pulling the ball to the wall. In game action, Aviles had two productive at-bats. In his first time up, Aviles fell behind 0-2, then fouled off several pitches and worked back to 3-2. Then, he pulled the pitch to the gap in left-center field for a double. In his second trip to the plate, he jumped out front of a first-pitch breaking ball and launched it high off the wall in left field, a few feet short a home run. Aviles will be a player to monitor closely this week.
• C.J. Van Eyk (Steinbrenner High, Lutz, Fla.) showed a promising three-pitch mix. The righthander faced eight batters, striking out two and inducing six ground balls. Van Eyk’s fastball worked at 89-92. He showed a sharp 11-to-5 curveball and spotted a fading changeup down and to his arm side. Van Eyk has the arm speed and frame (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) to add velocity down the line. His delivery has some deception, with his shoulders started coiled and his front leg landing closed.
• Trey Dillard
(Desert Mountain High, Scottsdale, Ariz.) showed impressive arm strength from the right side. His fastball sat at 89-92 and touched 93 and 94. The pitch showed heavy sinking action, enabling Dillard to generate five ground balls—he faced eight batters total. Dillard showed a sweeping, early-breaking curveball in the upper 70s. He has an up-and-back arm action and throws from a three-quarter arm slot.