Blue Jays top-30 prospects #4: Conner Greene

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Following two seasons of near identical numbers, 2013 seventh-round pick Conner Greene may finally be showing the kind of pitcher he can become.

Hon. Mentions Part 1    Hon. Mentions Part 2    #30: Freddy Rodriguez
#29: Evan Smith    #28: Deiferson Barreto    #27: Chad Girodo
#26: Roemon Fields    #25:  Rodrigo Orozco    #24:  Reggie Pruitt
#23: Joe Biagini    #22:  Carl Wise    #21: Tom Robson
#20: Matt Dean    #19: Andy Burns    #18: Guadalupe Chavez   #17: Ryan Borucki
#16: Jose Espada    #15: Dan Jansen    #14: Dwight Smith Jr.    #13: D.J. Davis
#12: Mitch Nay    #11: Angel Perdomo #10: Clinton Hollon  #9: Max Pentecost
#8: Justin Maese    #7: Jon Harris   #6: Richard Urena   #5: Sean Reid-Foley    

Conner Greene was drafted as a pitcher with a projectable body (6’3″, 165 lbs.) but his stuff lacked the immediate “wow factor”. After 3 seasons in the system, Greene’s pitching arsenal has come a long way, and the numbers he is putting up are starting to show it.

Pre-draft scouting reports pegged Greene as a guy with amazing makeup but with a clear need to refine his raw stuff and command, which was not uncommon for an arm his age. Now that he seems to be moving in the right direction in respect to those issues, it will be very interesting to see how Greene will continue that development this year, and what kind of pitcher the Blue Jays could have on their hands.

Name: Conner Greene
Position: RHP         Age: 20
Height: 6’3”    Weight: 165 lbs.
Throws: Right            Bats: Right
Acquired: 7th round of 2013 draft

Coming into the draft, scouts were not too high on Greene’s stuff. “He usually pitches at 87-88, and his secondary stuff is underdeveloped. He throws a splitter rather than a changeup, and the pitch has sink but is inconsistent. His curve has 11-to-5 break, and his best ones rate as 40s on the 20-80 scouting scale,” said one scouting report from Baseball America.

In the two and a half years since then, Greene has managed to add on almost 10 mph to the ceiling velocity of his heater, being clocked recently as high as 97 mph.

Seeing as this heat is still so new to Greene, it is easy to question how consistent and repeatable that will be.

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But as one would expect, the Blue Jays are planning to develop Greene as a longterm starter in an attempt to maximize any value they may be able to get from him. While he spent some time in the bullpen earlier in his career, all 26 of his appearances in 2015 were starts.

And Greene sure has flourished in that role. After struggling to an unsightly 5.28 ERA in 30.2 innings his first year, he has brought that number down to 3.03 and 3.54 the past two years.

When comparing that first year to the next two, it is very easy to see what was so different to cause such a discrepancy between the earned run averages. In his first year his BB/9 sat at 4.4 while his K/9 only got up to 5.9. But as Greene has refined his stuff and command, those numbers have changed for the better.

Not only have his walks come down to much more acceptable levels of 2.7 per 9 in both seasons since, but his strikeouts have risen to 7.7 in ’14 and 7.8 in ’15.

While those are not dominating numbers, they are definitely serviceable. Keeping his walks as low as he has will help mitigate the damage when he does get into trouble. While he may not be able to blow hitters away just yet (if he can further his secondary pitches, watch out!) he still profiles as a great #2 or #3 starting pitcher.

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Greene is slated to start the year at AA, while it is expected he could debut in AAA sometime this summer. If he can continue to dominate like he has the past two years, it should be a quick promotion that could be followed by another quick promotion to The Show, barring a major hiccup at the highest level of the minors.

Greene’s major league career may begin very much like Aaron Sanchez, starting off as a dominant reliever before (hopefully) transitioning into a great starting pitcher.

While he is already rated as the Blue Jays best pitching prospect in our rankings, watch out for Greene to keep climbing the ladder in ’16 to become one of the better pitching prospects in all of baseball.