Sleeper Watch: Diamondbacks Righty Josh Green

Image credit: Josh Green (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Diamondbacks didn’t get much fanfare when they selected righthander Josh Green in the 14th round last summer. He spent his first three seasons at Southeastern Louisiana as a reliever before moving to into the rotation as a senior. He didn’t strike out many hitters with Lions, but he didn’t issue many walks, either.

What he did, however, was sink the living daylights out of a low- to mid-90s fastball over and over again to get the opposition to beat the ball into the ground. He continued to do that in his first taste of pro ball with short-season Hillsboro, where he racked up an absurd ratio of 3.53 groundouts for every one fly out.

Keeping the ball on the ground during the fly ball revolution is an extremely valuable skill, but it was clear on the Arizona backfields that he has the stuff to strike hitters out, too. Now, it’s a matter of refining his raw materials and turning himself into the complete package.

“He’s got a lot of natural ability,” high Class A Visalia pitching coach Shane Loux said. “The ball comes out hot, it’s got natural sink. You can’t coach that—you’ve either got it or you don’t. We can teach a little bit of run, but he’s got some sink. It’s pretty fun to watch.”

Pitching in an early morning intrasquad scrimmage on Monday, Green touched as high as 96 mph with his fastball and backed it up with a full complement of offspeed pitches.

Green also employed a mid-80s changeup with plenty of fade and sink, and he showed no fear using the pitch to both sides. He threw both a slider and curveball, with the latter pitch showing particularly well.

With the pure ingredients in place, the D-backs can go to work fine-tuning Green into what they ultimately believe will be a member of the major league rotation. They want to turn his slider into more of a cutter, get his changeup to better mimic his fastball and educate him on the finer arts of reading swings and sequencing his pitches based on situation.

For now, though, what they’ve got to work with is very intriguing.

“I saw that we got him in the 14th round, and I absolutely, 100 percent thought we got a steal,” Loux said. “He’s got a major league body already, he’s got really good stuff, and he’s only going to get better.”

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