As the highest draft choice that the Angels have had in years, Hunter Green has had a lot hung on him. Despite being just 18 years old, he's already being viewed as a cornerstone of the Angels' minor league rebuilding plan and a staff leader of the (distant) future. No pressure, right?
Position: LHP Highest Level: AZL
Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6'4" Weight: 175
Age: 18 Born: 7/12/1995
2013 Rank: unranked
2013 Season Stats
AZL: 16.2 IP, 0-1, 4.32 ERA, 16 H, 16 BB, 0 HR, 11 SO, 4.94 FIP, .302 BABIP, 36.2 GB%
Fastball = B
The average fastball for a LHP is 89-90. As a 17-year old that has yet to grow into his tall frame, Green is sitting 90-92. Reports indicate there’s good life to the pitch as well, as it runs in on the hands of LHB. It’s future grade will almost certainly be a “B+” or an “A” as Hunter fills out. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Green was throwing 94+ in a couple years.
Offspeed Pitches = B
Green throws a sharp breaking curve with considerable sudden movement that is already considered “plus” and also has a changeup that has future potential with some sink to it. The Angels are almost certainly banking on Green further developing this pitch with time as it is often the difference between a starter or reliever.
Control = Incomplete
We really haven’t seen enough of Hunter Green to say one way or another where his control is at as a prospect right now. Scouting reports from this past year in high school indicate that Green was raw, but hardly ever challenged by the competition. The numbers in Rookie Ball make it pretty clear he wasn’t throwing as many strikes as he needed to be.
Command = Incomplete
Just about every scouting report I’ve read on Hunter Green indicates that he most certainly has work to do in terms of improving the command of his pitches and spotting them where he chooses. But every scouting report also adds in that any issues observed in Green so far are far from impossible to fix. He seems to be an easygoing, rather “moldable” pitcher. However, I could neither confirm nor deny the presence of such issues because I just haven’t seen enough of him yet. But I wouldn’t doubt they are there. How many 17-year olds from back East come prepackaged with the innate ability to throw strikes and sit on the corners at will? None that I know of. Of course, there’s a first for everything (see Trout, Michael, Nelson).
Mechanics = B
I really like Green’s delivery. It involves minimal effort, his low-90’s heat is rather easily accomplished, which strongly suggests that he should avoid arm troubles and even add more velocity in the future. He has a simple drop and drive delivery that is rather quick to the plate (effective as a LH in holding runners on). His release is what I’d consider a true “three-quarters” release. He neither sidearms the ball or gets on top of it, which gives all of his pitches considerable movement. I have seen some cases, which he hasn’t landed in the same spot or followed through in his mechanics, but these are easily correctable. I really don’t see any flaws in Green as of right now.
Performance = Incomplete
It’s a success that Hunter Green went from every day high school senior to millionaire pitcher overnight. But in terms of professional performance there isn’t anything to go off of just yet.
Projection = A
I think this is where Green’s value truly lies for right now. He’s a tall, lanky, hard throwing lefty with pretty mechanics as a kid. In a few years he can turn into a tall, strong, very hard throwing lefty with flawless mechanics as a man. In which case he’d be the type of pitcher you build a rotation around. If all goes right, Green can be a very good #2 or #3 starter.
Grade as a Prospect = C+
His projection is off the charts, and even though he was projected to be a first round selection (the Angels scooped him up in the 2nd round) he still has to have some minor league success before anointing him as anything too far above average. To Green’s credit, a year or two from now I do see him emerging as a fringe Top 100 prospect, so success is on the way (I believe).
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = 2018
Yes, it’s legitimately five years away. That’s a long time to wait for a prospect. But in five years, Green will be going on 23 years old. That’s a pretty young age to be making a major league debut. I must preach patience on this one. Green is an exciting prospect, but he is raw. It’s going to take a while for him to be a refined professional pitcher, but once he does he could be something special.
2013 in Review*
It has been years since the Angels have had a high-end starting pitcher prospect in their farm system, but Hunter Green is the kid that is supposed to change that. Green was viewed as a late-first round talent but fell to the Angels in the second round due to signability concerns, but the Angels took a chance anyway and got him locked up. They simply couldn't afford NOT to sign him.
Now, Green is seen as a building block for the future, but there is a heck of a lot of building left to do. To say that Green struggled with his command in his abbreviated first season in the Arizona Summer League would indicate that he had any command at all, which he didn't. Given that he's a teenager, that was not entirely unexpected, but it goes to show that he is a long, long, long way from delivering on all of his talent and potential.
The first thing that Green needs to do is just mature physically. He's basically a hatrack with a 91 MPH fastball (for sale now at The Sharper Image!). In a way, that is encouraging because he already has good velocity and will only add more once somebody shows him what barbells and dumbbells look like. His fastball already has the movement and his offspeed stuff is already promising, so just putting on muscle alone is going to take him a long way. The additional strength, balance and coordination will only help him maintain his delivery as well.
As for this coming season, the Angels could continue their recent trend of aggressiveness with top prospects and send Green to Low-A Burlington to get in a full season of work. However, given that he is so young and so in need of physically development, it is probably more prudent to take a more conservative approach and let Green at least start his 2014 campaign in short-season Rookie ball in Orem. Green doesn't project to be a future ace, but he's probably the closest thing this system has right now, so the Angels really have to make sure they don't screw him up. If he progresses as expected, he should easily be top three in the Angels farm system next year and could be a top 100 overall prospect another year or two after that.
*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.