Riley Greene Catches Scouts' Eye At Tournament Of Stars
CARY, N.C. — An assortment of major league scouts were at the Tournament of Stars showcase this week in Cary, N.C., to watch 80 of the most talented high school players in the country face off against each other for a chance to make Team USA’s U18 National Team.
One player in particular garnered praise and drew more than a second glance from the evaluators: 2019 Florida outfielder Riley Greene.
Greene, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound outfielder from Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla., is one of the top prep players in the nation and earned Third-Team High School All-American honors from Baseball America as a junior, even with pitchers not giving him much to hit this year. Greene hit four home runs in the team’s first five games before the opposition started pitching around him.
Yet even while being pitched around, Greene hit .405 this season to go along with 17 extra-base hits 26 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, and most importantly, a 23-to-9 walk-to-strikeout ratio.
Just by the numbers, it’s clear the lefthanded hitter has enormous skill with the bat. Greene possesses quick hands and an easy swing that generates strong power presently, with more power potential on the way as he adds muscle to his long frame.
He also has exceptional plate discipline, as evidenced by his walk-to-strikeout ratio, something he says he developed from watching pitchers work.
“When the pitchers throw bullpens, I just sit in and track pitches all the time,” Greene said. “Just practice.”
It’s that drive and work ethic that Hagerty head coach Matt Cleveland believes separates him from other players.
“Everybody knows the tools he has as a player, but he’s also the first guy to pull the tarp,” Cleveland said. “The first one at practice every day. So, to have your most highly rated player who’s getting all the attention to be that guy as well, really helps and makes a big difference for our program.”
Having started on varsity since his freshman season, Greene has had plenty of experience playing against quality competition and his play helped lead his school to the Class 8A state championship in his first two seasons with the program.
His experience playing in high-pressure situations certainly helped him last week. In three games, Greene went 3-for-9 and walked five times, including a performance on Tuesday afternoon where he reached base in all five at-bats with two hits and three walks.
The strong play earned him a spot as one of 43 players for the 18U National Team Trials, where he will compete for a spot on the 20-man national team roster. Yet he still was not fully satisfied with his performance, showing the competitive drive that ever pushes him forward.
“It’s been pretty good,” Greene said. “I could be better.”
Defensively, his coach believes he can stick in any of the three outfield spots and he played center field for his team this season.
“Obviously, he’s like a 6.6 runner and it might even end up being faster than that,” Cleveland said. “That kind of depends. I don’t really think it matters. The arm plays, the arm strength is there.”
Ultimately though, Greene will go as far as his bat will take him. And for now, his bat will take him to the University of Florida, starting in the fall of 2019. And even though Greene could be a first-round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, he says he is focused on his college commitment.
“I’m just thinking about going to Florida right now. That’s the goal, that’s where I’m committed, so that’s where I’m going to go, as of right now.”
If Greene does decide to go to college, he will join a program that has had 13 different players drafted in the last two seasons. And in that case, the scouts will continue to gather in Gainesville to see him play for one of the nation’s premier teams. Because he has the skills, and the drive, to be great.
His coach, who has seen exceptional talents come through the state of Florida, certainly believes the hype surrounding Greene.
“He could be a big-league all star, there’s no doubt about that.”