- Full name Donald Zackary Greinke
- Born 10/21/1983 in Orlando, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 200 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Apopka
- Debut 05/22/2004
Drafted in the 1st round (6th overall) by the Kansas City Royals in 2002 (signed for $2,475,000).
View Draft ReportFew players in the nation have helped themselves as much as Greinke, who entered the year as a potential second- or third-rounder and now figures to go in the first 8-15 picks. An outstanding athlete who's part of a typically strong Clemson recruiting class, he's a legitimate prospect as a third baseman and holds most of Apopka High's career batting records. But teams are focusing on his mound prowess, which includes a 92-93 mph fastball that has touched 96, a plus changeup and a good breaking ball. He commands all three pitches very well, and scouts like his poise and mental toughness.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Royals wanted to draft an advanced college pitcher in the first round in 2002 because they used their first two picks the previous year on a pair of risky raw talents, Colt Griffin and Roscoe Crosby. But Kansas City's scouts said Greinke was the most polished and poised pitcher available, even though he spent most of his time as a shortstop before his senior year of high school. He got in just 12 innings in his pro debut after signing for $2.475 million, but the Royals were convinced he was mature enough to handle a trip to the Puerto Rican League. He more than held his own there, working with Braves pitching guru Guy Hansen. Another bold move by the Royals put Greinke in high Class A Wilmington to begin the 2003 season. He dominated the competition, winning his first nine decisions. He ranked as the Carolina League's best prospect, earning a berth in the Futures Game and a promotion to Double-A Wichita. He allowed three earned runs or more just three times all year en route to a 1.93 composite ERA, the third-best in the minors. He missed one start with a strained back, but it was more to give him a mental and physical break because the competitive Greinke told coaches he could pitch if needed. Greinke loves the game and has great makeup. He spent time during spring training evaluating players with scouting director Deric Ladnier, offering his insights on their strengths and weaknesses. He also took to watching batting practice, learning where hitters liked the ball and what they had trouble with. Greinke is a constant tinkerer and thinker with impeccable control of an array of pitches. He likes developing new pitches and variations by adding and subtracting velocity and changing grips. He throws his fastball in the high 80s most of the time, but can rev it up to the mid-90s when he wants. A new grip on his two-seamer makes it dive toward the ground. His slider ranks as a put-away pitch with depth and a hard, late bite. His changeup is his third-best pitch, but still grades as above-average and ranks as the organization's best. Greinke now throws his curveball with a spike grip for more action. His ability to improvise sometimes gets him in trouble. He might get beat trying a new pitch in a situation when an outside fastball or biting slider would work fine. He doesn't strike out as many hitters as he could because he revels in breaking bats and inducing weak contact to create better pitch economy. He could rack up more whiffs if he just threw his slider more in two-strike counts. Consistency on his secondary pitches is about the only area Greinke needs to improve. He'd be even more lethal if he located all the different variations in his repertoire on one occasion. He normally just goes with what feels best that day. Greinke secured an invite to major league spring training, but the Royals might send him out of big league camp earlier than he deserves because they're don't want to raise any hope that he might make the rotation. He'll probably begin the year back in Double-A to build confidence, receiving a quick bump to Triple-A Omaha as soon as he dominates. He still has a chance to make his major league debut late in the year.
Greinke entered his high school senior season as a projected second- or third-round pick--as either a pitcher or third baseman. He never hit less than .444 in high school, producing 31 homers and 144 RBIs in four seasons. When scouts saw that his strong infield arm provided 96 mph heat from the mound last spring, though, his future was set. Greinke became more committed to pitching and went 9-2, 0.55 with 118 strikeouts and eight walks in 63 innings. He turned down a Clemson scholarship to sign with the Royals for a $2.475 million bonus as the sixth overall pick. Because the Royals had no instructional league and Greinke got in just 12 innings last summer, they sent him to pitch in the Puerto Rican League over the winter. Though such an assignment is almost unheard of, Greinke handled it well and was regarded as one of the league's top prospects. Guy Hansen, a former Royals scout who now works for the Braves and was Greinke's pitching coach at Mayaguez, said Greinke was a cross between David Cone and Bret Saberhagen, with Cone's breaking ball and Saberhagen's mechanics and command. Hansen also had high praise for Greinke's polished approach to pitching and his ability to accept and implement instruction. Despite his inexperience on the mound, Greinke commands four above-average pitches. His fastball sits between 91 and 93 mph, and he likes to move it in and out on hitters. He also has a slider with good tilt, along with a curveball and changeup. Because he has plenty of athleticism, a compact delivery and easy arm action, Greinke may increase his velocity as he progresses. If that happens, he would profile as a No. 1 starter. Greinke's infield experience makes him a good fielding pitcher who holds runners well. Though he has four pitches, Greinke rarely uses all of them in a given outing. He usually has two working at a time and tends to stick with them. Because he barely pitched after signing, the biggest key for Greinke is to get experience in game situations and continue to build his arm strength. He needs to work on pitching down in the strike zone more. He also needs to improve the command of his secondary pitches. The Royals considered Greinke the most polished high school arm in the 2002 draft. Based on his performance in Puerto Rico, where he had a 2.45 ERA in 26 innings, Greinke could start the season in high Class A. While Greinke's stuff isn't as overwhelming as 2001 first-rounder Colt Griffin's, he's a workaholic who studies hitters and figures to succeed with his intellect and command.
Minor League Top Prospects
Greinke established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors this year. He wasn't quite as dominant in the TL as he was in the high Class A Carolina League, but managers still were impressed with all he can do as a 19-year-old. Beyond any of his stuff, Greinke earned kudos for his command, poise and feel for pitching. He's mature beyond his years, he can throw any of his pitches just about anywhere he wants, and he changes speeds masterfully. His stuff isn't short by any means--his fastball touches 93 mph and he's young enough that he could add velocity--though one manager said, "I'm not sure it's the kind of stuff where he can say, 'Here it is, hit it.' " Fortunately, Greinke rarely does that. "A 19-year-old shouldn't have that kind of command," Brundage said. "A 19-year-old shouldn't be able to throw wherever you want, whenever you want. A lot of times it looked like he was playing a game within a game, just playing games with himself."
Believe the hype. Everywhere Greinke went in the league, he drew rave reviews for his Greg Maddux-like command and his bulldog mentality on the mound. Greinke befuddled hitters by altering speeds on his fastball and curveball. He also throws a slider and changeup, and can throw any of the four pitches for strikes in any count. "He's overpowering physically and mentally," Kinston manager Torey Lovullo said. "He did a great job of attacking hitters and changing speeds. He'd throw his fastball one time and hit 95, then drop it back to 80. He's as close to what you'd call a sure thing as I've seen. He has a great feel for how to get a hitter out."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the American League in 2009
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Carolina League in 2003
- Rated Best Control in the Carolina League in 2003