Hunter Greene has yet to throw a pitch for the Cincinnati Reds and he’s already become one of my favorite players. Not for what he does on the field, but off.
Hunter Greene gets it. This young man, whom the Cincinnati Reds took with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, has all the tools to be a big-time success when he reaches the Major League level. However, it’s what I see from Greene off the field rather than on the diamond that makes me a fan.
I had the pleasure of meeting Greene during the photograph sessions at RedsFest this past year and was very impressed with how interactive the 19-year-old was with all the fans. As I walked around the Duke Energy Convention Center later that afternoon, I stumbled upon him at one of the main floor activities teaching kids how to throw a pitch.
Of course, Greene wasn’t the only Reds player interacting with the fans, but his smile while doing these activities with Reds Country was genuine and contagious. There is just something special about this young man that few people in his position have.
There has been nothing relaxing about Greene’s offseason either. If he’s not rehabbing, the No. 3 prospect in the Reds Pipeline is active in the community. Greene hosted his second annual Hunter Greene Baseball Fest in Compton, California for 8 to 14 year-old kids. The camp provides catching, pitching, and base running instruction from Greene along with other players and coaches from around baseball.
Hunter Greene, aided by his Twitter followers, participated in the “We See You” Homeless Drive that saw 1,372 pairs of reading glasses handed out to the homeless community in California this past holiday season. As a token of appreciation to the fans that participated, Greene sent a signed Topps baseball card to all the fans that donated glasses to the cause.
Greene has participated in similar initiatives for the homeless community in the past as well. Greene helped setup a “Sox 4 Homeless” drive in 2016 and in 2017 helped collect hygiene kits for the Skid Row community of Los Angeles.
Earlier this offseason, Greene participated in Compton’s 14th annual Turkey Giveaway. Greene’s appearance was unannounced, but that didn’t stop him from joining other volunteers at the event to give out turkeys before the Thanksgiving holiday. Greene greeted the guests at the event and also made himself available for photos.
Most fans will focus on Greene’s fastball, which touches at least 102 MPH. However, the success this young man is bound to have in the big leagues will not come close to the impact that he’ll have in his community. During the Turkey Giveaway, Greene was quoted by MLB.com as saying:
"“A lot of people, they think it’s hard to do and it takes too much time and effort, but for me, it’s easy. I love doing it, and I love the interaction, being intimate with the community and just giving back.”"
That giving spirit that seems to come so naturally to a person who’s yet to turn 20-years-old is astounding. So, while the Cincinnati Reds have a lot of talented players who’ve made an impact on their community and in the Cincinnati area, it’s so refreshing to see a young man, barely out of high school, who understands that there’s more to being a professional athlete than striking out opposing batters.
Greene is currently rehabbing and recovering from a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that he suffered toward the end of last season. All signs point to Greene being ready in time for Spring Training. Provided he doesn’t have any setbacks, it’s a safe bet to think that Cincinnati Reds fans will see Greene lighting up the radar gun at Great American Ball Park soon enough.