Hunter Greene appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine as a 17-year-old. That tells a little about the expectations people have for Greene.
Now he’s ready to embark on a professional baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds after reaching agreement on a $7.23-million signing bonus on Friday just minutes before the 2 p.m. PDT deadline, according to his father, Russell.
“He’s on top of the world,” Russell said. “We were getting our hair cut 30 minutes to the deadline. The last two or three minutes, he was on the couch.”
Greene, a pitcher and shortstop from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High, was taken No. 2 overall by the Reds last month in baseball’s amateur draft. His bonus is the largest amount ever for a high school or college player since the current slot format went into effect in with the 2012 draft. Gerrit Cole, a UCLA product, received a record $8-million bonus from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011.
This year’s No. 1 pick, shortstop Royce Lewis of San Juan Capistrano JSerra High, signed for $6.725 million with the Minnesota Twins and No. 4 pick Brendan McKay, a pitcher-first baseman from Louisville, signed for $7,007,500 with the Rays. The No. 3 pick, high school left-hander MacKenzie Gore from North Carolina, signed with the Padres for $6.7 million.
Greene, a right-hander, has been clocked at 102 mph with his fastball. He’s also a slick-fielding shortstop with promising power as a hitter.
Russell Greene said pitching would be his son’s priority with the Reds, but that Hunter would also be given a chance to hit.
Greene had accepted a scholarship to UCLA, but instead he’ll begin his pro career in Montana, with the Billings Mustangs of the Pioneer League, a high Rookie League team.
Notre Dame coach Tom Dill said Greene is well prepared to deal with the challenges of pro baseball.
“He’s probably had more prep than most people, especially off the field stuff,” Dill said. “He’s been groomed on things he needs to do to represent an organization. He’s always had a mission of being a good representative of baseball in general.
“On the baseball end, he knows it’s a tough sport and has a lot of work to do to continue to get better at the next level. He’s got nice talent to start with, but he knows he has to improve to be someone who makes it to the major leagues. With his work ethic, I like his chances.”
Greene topped a list of eight Southland products taken in the first 70 picks who earned seven-digit signing bonuses. The others: Keston Hiura of UC Irvine, $4 million from the Milwaukee Brewers; Nick Pratto of Huntington Beach High, $3.45 million from the Kansas City Royals; Blake Hunt of Santa Ana Mater Dei High, $1.6 million from the San Diego Padres; Hagen Danner of Huntington Beach, $1.5 million from the Toronto Blue Jays; Griffin Canning of UCLA, $1.45 million from the Angels; Matt Sauer of Santa Maria Righetti, $2.5 million from the Yankees; and Hans Crouse of Dana Hills High, $1.45 million from the Texas Rangers.
In addition to the signing bonus, the Reds agreed to pay for four years of college at UCLA after Greene’s pro career is over.