Conner Greene Strives To Mix It Up
Enduring struggle over an extended period on the baseball field is a new experience for righthander Conner Greene, who hasn’t pitched to expectations, either external ones or his own, at Double-A New Hampshire.
"I feel mentally tested more than anything,” the 22-year-old said, "feeling I’m ready to take the next step and not necessarily proving it statistically. A lot of the times I have flashes of (success), and I want to show that the consistency could be there. And it will be there. I'm confident in that.”
Given that his fastball touches triple digits with a curveball that can be dominant and a changeup that provides another element of separation, Greene certainly has the tools to make it happen.
But work remains in more effectively harnessing and commanding his heater, getting consistency with his breaking ball and honing his changeup.
Those are reasons why he describes the first four months of the season as his "first road bump” in pro ball since signing as a 2013 seventh-rounder out of Santa Monica (Calif.) High. Through 20 starts he went 4-8, 4.87 with 73 strikeouts and 65 walks in 105.1 innings.
"Sometimes because I throw so hard I think people, my peers—everybody—we have this thought process that the fastball can just overpower all the other pitches and put the curveball and the changeup in the shadows,” Greene said. "It’s just as important to throw a mixture of pitches because no matter how hard you throw, if (the batter) knows it's coming, they're going to hit it.”
To that end, Greene has been focused on the mental side of the game, working on the chess match that plays out between pitcher and hitter. At lower levels of the minors, he could simply blow his fastball by hitters, but now that velocity doesn’t unhinge opponents. The phrase "mix it up,” has become mantra.
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"I'm going out there to truly pitch. I'm studying myself and the usage of my weapons out there,” Greene said. "How am I attacking? What combinations am I going to use to get outs? There are hundreds of combinations that can get outs, and there's not just one correct one. I'm learning how to read swings and see what would be the correct way at that time.”