Amid Loss, Greene Finds Reason To Celebrate With Phillies

PHILADELPHIA Life provides its share of high and lows. Six months after enduring the most difficult time of his life, Larry Greene embraced his father as they shared in one of the most exciting experiences a young ballplayer can have.
Six months after the death of his mother, Greene was selected by the Phillies with the 39th overall pick in the draft. The hard-hitting outfielder from Berrien County High in Nashville, Ga., was at draft headquarters in New Jersey when the pick was made. He immediately donned a red Phillies cap and hugged his father, Larry Sr., upon getting the news.
"I knew I was good, but I didn't think I was that good," the 18-year-old said.
In a lot of ways, this is a classic Phillies pick. Former scouting director Mike Arbuckle favored high-ceiling, potentially high-reward athletes in the early 1990s and that philosophy was shared by former general manager Pat Gillick and current scouting boss Marti Wolever and his staff. The lefthanded hitting Greene is 6-foot-1, 235 pounds. He was recruited to play football at Alabama, but is expected to sign with the Tide.
Greene reminds Phillies scouts of Jonathan Singleton, the team's eighth-round pick in 2009 who has blossomed into one of game's finest hitting prospects.
"We thought Larry was the best option for us at 39," Wolever said. "We spent a lot of time with him and did a lot of work with him. He plays hard and he's a good kid. He's a mature-body kid, a good athlete, really strong and powerful. We think he projects as corner outfielder with average to above-average power."
Greene hit .562 with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs in 30 high school games this season. There are some questions about his level of competition, but Wolever said it was "better than people give it credit for."
The Phils have selected a high school player with their first pick in five of the last seven drafts.
Greene's mother, Denise, was a diabetic. She died the day after Christmas.
"It was hard to go through, but me and my dad made it," Greene said. "She's watching now, so it's OK."
• Top hitting prospect Jonathan Singleton has been moved back to first base after a stint in left field. He'll still play some outfield but will get the bulk of his at-bats at first as he plays at high Class A Clearwater. A position change could be revisited in future years.
Michael Spidale's homer on May 29 was his 440th hit for Double-A Reading, a franchise record.