D-backs area scout Rusty Pendergrass can’t say for certain how righthander Josh Green lasted until the 14th round of last year’s draft. He’s just glad it worked out the way it did.
“I don’t know why they (other teams) didn’t like him,” Pendergrass said. “I’m glad they didn’t so I could get him.”
Five starts into his first full professional season, Green owns a 2.25 ERA and a nearly 70 percent ground ball rate at high Class A Visalia, largely the product of a lively and heavy two-seam fastball. Green has used the pitch—which he throws in the 90-94 mph range, touching 95 mph—to quickly put himself on the prospect landscape.
As for how the D-backs got him so late, Pendergrass has some theories. For one, Green was a senior at Southeastern Louisiana. Some clubs, Pendergrass says, don’t pay much attention to seniors in the Southland Conference.
“Some guys don’t like seniors,” Pendergrass said. “I like players. I don’t care what they’re classified.”
Another possibility is how Green looked after moving from the bullpen as a junior to the rotation as a senior. Pendergrass said Green, “wasn’t quite the same guy with velocity and stuff.”
But Pendergrass still saw plenty to like. Green is big and physical with a clean delivery, and after seeing him throw mostly sinkers and sliders out of the bullpen, Pendergrass saw him use a changeup as a starter. But it was the sinker that stood out.
“He can be a ground ball machine,” Pendergrass said. “Even base hits are ground balls. He’s got a hard sinker. He’s got the slider. He’s got pitches that go two different directions. And the change is a real good pitch, too.”
Green’s pitch repertoire harkens back to a different era—a time when sinkerballers Brandon Webb and Derek Lowe were dominant, a time before hitters had changed their swings to elevate pitches down in the zone.
“The game is always changing and evolving,” D-backs farm director Mike Bell said. “But the elite sinker is still a very productive pitch. When we recognize that somebody has something like that, we’re going to do everything we can to highlight that strength and allow them to throw these pitches.”
— Righthander Shumpei Yoshikawa is set to make his minor league debut next week for high Class A Visalia. Signed out of the Japanese industrial league last year, Yoshikawa, 24, is a strike-throwing starter with a upper-80s/low-90s fastball and an above-average changeup.
— Double-A Jackson shortstop Jazz Chisholm is off to a brutal start at the plate, going just 7-for-61 (.115), albeit with four homers.
“I think he’s just trying to do too much,” Bell said. “Swing-wise, it’s still the same swing. He was just trying to get off to such a good start and that didn’t happen, and now he’s trying harder. I think that’s the root of it. I think he just needs to slow it down, take his hits, take what they give him.”