Hunter Greene, “Its been my dream since I was 7 years old”
CINCINNATI — Hunter Greene is merely 17 years old — too young to vote, buy a lottery ticket or open his own bank account until the overall No. 2 pick in the Draft by the Reds turns 18 on Aug. 6.
Despite his youth, Greene has the poise and polish of someone who seems much older. He doesn’t converse like an awkward teenager, but more like a 30-something who understands the world. That was one of the things about Greene that struck Reds general manager Dick Williams when he met Greene and had dinner with his family in the weeks before the 2017 Draft.
“What I saw in Hunter is a belief in himself,” Williams said. “I was struck by the maturity you all have seen. He understands that being able to play baseball at this level is a gift. It’s not something to be taken for granted. I was incredibly impressed by how he’s leveraged that gift to share happiness with other people. He’s going to be a tremendous baseball player, and he’s going to be a tremendous person.”
Greene grew up in Southern California and attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. Besides being able to throw a baseball 102 mph as a pitcher, hit a baseball well enough to be a first-round position player and play great defense at shortstop, Greene also learned how to play the violin and speak Korean.
Lacking poise at a young age was not an option.
“Definitely my parents teaching me at a young age just to be level-headed, no matter how much success I deal with or how much failure I go through,” Greene said. “It’s being the same person throughout the whole process. I think it’s really helped with baseball. It’s a failing sport — going through ups and downs is part of the process and will be part of my career as well, just being able to see the brighter side and knowing that I’m going to come out strong and on top.”
When Greene’s younger sister Libriti was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 5 years old, he learned about what’s important in life.
“It was just a really difficult process to go through,” Greene said. “A lot of people go through it, and fortunately we were blessed. She’s still with us, and she’s doing really well.”
In his cover feature for Sports Illustrated, the magazine described Greene being at his sister’s bedside for nearly two years — except during school and games — while she was in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.
“She’s happy, and she gave me a great big hug after my name was announced [at the Draft],” Greene said. “Just being there for her and being the best big brother I could be, and being there when she was getting shots or getting her medicine and being supportive … was something that was really important to myself and my family.”
Greene would like to continue a mission of being there for others and leverage any success he has with the Reds in the community. He was a participant of the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., at 7, and he wants to be integral in Cincinnati, which also has an Urban Youth Academy.
“It’s something I really want to help out,” Greene said. “Anything I can do, go to ball clubs and go to little leagues and just talk to them and inspire them to be the greatest they can be is something I’d love to do.”
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.