According to the highly respected MLB.com, there are 52 minor-leaguers rated as better prospects than Louisville Bats starting pitcher Hunter Greene, who faced the Saints on Thursday night.
That list includes 16 pitchers who said to have more potential.
It’s doubtful that any of the 10,022 on hand Thursday at CHS Field are buying it, and the same can be said for the Saints.
Greene was downright nasty in limiting the Saints to one hit over 7.1 innings while striking out 10 in a 1-0 victory for the Bats. He threw more than two dozen pitches over 100 mph, topping out at 103 on several occasions.
“The radar gun was pretty impressive,” said Saints starter Drew Strotman, who took the tough-luck loss. “It’s definitely fun to watch. On a different day, if I’m not pitching, I’d probably be soaking it in more. I was trying to stay locked in in the dugout between innings and not be wowed too much by what he was doing.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Greene, who turns 22 on Friday, was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft. He was already well known in baseball circles by then, having appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was in high school.
Nick Gordon, sent down by the Twins on Thursday, got the Saints’ only hit against Greene, a line-drive single off the right-field wall in fourth inning.
“He definitely had command of his fastball,” said Gordon, who was able to turn on one of those fastballs. “Any time a guy has that good of a fastball, it’s kind of hard to come off that pitch. He spun some sliders in there, too, to get us off balance. He definitely was on tonight.”
Greene has struggled since being promoted to Triple-A in June, going 2-5 with a 4.23 earned-run average, but he looked the part of a phenom on Thursday.
“Tonight he was able to throw strikes and get ahead of guys,” Saints manager Toby Gardenhire said. “If he falls behind guys — anybody can get hit when you fall behind and have to throw fastballs. He didn’t do that tonight, and his off-speed pitches got better as the game went on.”
Greene left the game with one out in the seventh inning after striking out his 10th batter, which tied his season high. He entered the game ranked sixth in minor-league baseball with 110 strikeouts in 79.1 innings. He has now struck out at least seven batters in his past four starts.
Strotman made his second start for the Saints since being acquired by the Twins in a trade with Tampa Bay and pitched well for the second time. He gave up the one run — an RBI double in the second — on four hits in five innings. The 24-year-old right-hander said he is settling in nicely with his new team—and organization.
“I’m trying out a couple new things as opposed to how I’ve pitched all year,” Strotman said. “But it’s pretty similar. There are a lot of the same tendencies, organization-wise. The philosophies are pretty similar.”
The Saints honored their 2019 American Association championship team prior to the game, with several members of the team taking part in a ceremony on the field. Manager George Tsamis had his No. 22 retired.