After five years of Venezuelan play, the St. Louis Cardinals are leaving the rookie-level league in…
2011 MLB Draft Q&A: Tyler Greene
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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Are you still 6'3", 175 lbs?
Tyler Greene: Actually no, I've been getting in the gym this offseason, trying to put on some weight, and right now I'm actually up at 185 lbs.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you been focusing the gains anywhere specifically, or is it just total body due to eating as much as possible and exercising?
Tyler Greene: I have a dietician/nutritionist who is telling me what to eat, and I have a personal trainer, too. I'm working out with the guys for the NFL combine this year, and I'm doing speed and strength training with them, so that's really helped me put on a lot of weight as well.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you, or did you, play any other sports besides baseball?
Tyler Greene: I played football when I was really little – I think I was a fourth grader when I decided to give it up. I played basketball in seventh grade, but after that I just decided that baseball was my thing, and I knew that I could have a bright future in it, so I just decided to focus on it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Along those same lines, when was that moment specifically that you realized you could potentially due something professionally with baseball?
Tyler Greene: I think I realized that my freshman year when I went to a showcase and put up these numbers. All of a sudden I made the varsity team, I began starting, I got into games and started hitting, and I realized – "wow, I'm up here with juniors and seniors, and I'm actually competing…and even better than most of them." So I realized my freshman year that I had something special.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What drew you to Georgia?
Tyler Greene: Well, you know, I committed there really early – at the first game of my sophomore year. I love Georgia. My brother was recruited by them the year before and I went up there with him for his visit and really fell in love with Athens. Coach Perno was always good to me; I love Coach Eller and Coach Osborne, they're just great guys, and once you go up to Athens and get to spend the weekend with those three coaches there's no way you're going anywhere else.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: On the flip side, how much have you thought about the MLB Draft?
Tyler Greene: You know, I really don't talk or think about it that much to be honest with you. God has a plan for me, and whatever that plan is, is what is going to be. I can't control what is going to happen in the future, all I can change is working hard to get better every day – just hard work. Everybody works hard, but it's going to be that work that I put in, and focusing on specific things, that's going to make me better than everybody else.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you do allow yourself that moment of contemplation, what's the dream you have?
Tyler Greene: Oh man, that's been my dream ever since I started to really focus on baseball: to be a professional baseball player. I just want to be the guy that's in the big leagues by the time he's 21, 22, 23 years old, starting at shortstop, being the main guy - someone like Starlin Castro. Then All-Star games, Gold Gloves, helping the team to the playoffs and World Series. I want to be that guy when I'm young that everybody looks at and says "wow, this kid is a superstar in the making right here."
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from so far?
Tyler Greene: Probably somewhere in the mid twenties.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: And are the Yankees one of them?
Tyler Greene: Oh yeah, definitely. I played for the White Sox scout team in Jupiter, the Florida Legends, and Carlos Marti who is the scout for the Yankees around here was at every one of my games. I've known him since I was a sophomore.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How would you describe yourself as a hitter?
Tyler Greene: If I had to describe myself in one word, I'd say "intimidating." When I go up there to hit, in my mind I know they're thinking "wow, Tyler's up. I don't want to face this kid." If they make one little mistake they know I can capitalize on it and drive a ball into the gap, or even over the fence.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your approach at the plate in terms of discipline?
Tyler Greene: I'd say I take my walks because my speed comes into play a lot, too – if you walk me I'm going to steal second and third, so it will be like giving up a triple. If you put it in the zone I'm going to hit it hard somewhere, but I'll take my walks.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you had to isolate one hitting quality of yours that you do better than anything else, what would it be?
Tyler Greene: I think I have the quickest hands in the country, no doubt about it! [laughs] My hands are lightning, they're dangerous. God gave me a special gift, and people tell me that all the time and I don't always realize it until I get on the field. We'll be taking BP, or even in the games, and a ball will get in on me and I'll just flick my wrists real quick and the ball will take off to right-center.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: You talk about having opposite field power – is that something that comes natural to you, or have you worked to develop it?
Tyler Greene: That comes comes natural to me. Every since I was a little kid pitchers would be scared of throwing me inside, so I got pitched to away a lot, and I realized that I had to start driving the ball to rightfield. During games I'd start getting more and more outside pitches, and when I'd hit them they'd go a long way. I actually realized at that point that going opposite field was actually my strong suit. Pitchers were trying to throw me away, and I was just driving the ball over the fence to rightfield.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Where do you hit in the lineup?
Tyler Greene: This year I'll probably lead off.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: In conjunction with that, you were talking about speed a little earlier. How much of a role does it play in your offensive game?
Tyler Greene: Oh, it's a big part offensively. If I'm ever in a slump I can just rely on my speed to help me out of it by bunting one down the line or hitting a hard groundball into the shortstop hole and beating it out. Speed is a big part of my game and I take pride in it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is the fastest 60 that you've run?
Tyler Greene: The fastest 60 I've run is a 6.31.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Wow! Was that at a PG showcase?
Tyler Greene: No, I ran a 6.36 at the PG National. During the NFL combine training I've been running against these guys, the top defensive backs in the country, and when we've raced I've beaten most of them.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So I assume you're running 40s, too?
Tyler Greene: Yeah, we ran 40s and I ran a 4.4.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Defensively you're a shortstop, but I've read that you could play anywhere on the field in the future. Are you definitely going to be a shortstop if you go to Georgia?
Tyler Greene: Oh yeah, no doubt about it. Coach told me I will be the guy when I come in my freshman year, that I'll be the starting shortstop. I take a lot of pride in it because there's not many guys that can stay at shortstop after the high school level, and with my size, speed, and power, I think that makes me pretty rare.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your demeanor on the field? If someone came to watch you play, what would they see in terms of your outward expression?
Tyler Greene: I take to heart the idea that there's always someone out there who could be watching me for the first time. I've played that way ever since I was a little kid. Every day that I go out there I give 100%, and the things I want people to see in me are that I am a leader, that I play the hardest out of anybody in the country, and that I'm very confident.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Just from speaking to you now, you do seem to have good confidence.
Tyler Greene: [laughs] I get that a lot – people talking, saying "he's really cocky," and stuff, but I'm just very confident in myself, I'm a very confident kid, and nobody is going to take that away from me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What MLB team did you grow up a fan of?
Tyler Greene: I was actually born and raised on the eastern shore of Maryland where everyone is a waterman and a farmer, so I've grown up a Baltimore Orioles fan my whole life. My dad grew up there, my mom grew up there, my grandfather grew up there, and I used to sit at home with my grandfather and my dad watching Orioles games as a little kid.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Staying on the Major League topic, who are the players that you look up to for their skills or the way they play the game?
Tyler Greene: I like the way Troy Tulowitzki plays, I mentioned Starlin Castro earlier because I love the way he plays, and of course Hanley Ramirez.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could choose one skill from anyone else in your draft class, whose would it be, and why?
Tyler Greene: Ooh, that's a tough one! I like to think I've got the best thing in the country right here with myself [laughs]. But to be honest with you, I'd probably have to say Mike Kelly's fastball – Mike Kelly's arm. He my teammate, I love him to death, and he's got a great arm. I'd love to have it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How hard does he throw?
Tyler Greene: He's been up to 95-96 MPH.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who's the toughest pitcher you've had to face in your career so far?
Tyler Greene: I'm going to throw this out there, and people might not agree with me, but I have to say toughest pitcher I've ever faced is Hudson Boyd. He's got a really tight curveball, he's worked a lot on his changeup and that thing is dirty, and his fastball runs, it cuts, it sinks, it does all kinds of stuff.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: For your upcoming season, what are hoping for from a team perspective, and then what are you focusing on individually?
Tyler Greene: From the team perspective, our goal is to win the state championship, no doubt about it. We've got a special group of kids at our school this year, and we have a very good chance of doing it for 5A. For me, my goal is to just be a leader and make everyone around me better.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Is playing professionally out of high school something that interests you if the contract and situation are right, or are you definitely going to Georgia?
Tyler Greene: I mean, it definitely interests me. What kid out of high school wouldn't want to play professional baseball, you know? If any kid in the country had that opportunity they would want to do it, but for me everything has to be right, everything has to be perfect. I love Georgia, I've been committed to them for over two years now, and it's going to be hard to take me away from that.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being 18 years old, how do you deal with the pressure that comes along with these two amazing opportunities you have in front of you? How do you balance that pressure with just trying to be a normal high school teenager, when you clearly are not on the path of a normal high school teenager?
Tyler Greene: It's tough, because it kind of does get to me sometimes, but I just like to think of myself as a normal kid that God gave these abilities to, and I thank the lord every day for that. It's definitely a gift and I'm very fortunate because not a lot of people have the same opportunities that I have – I'm very blessed. There's no doubt that I take pride in being given these options, and I'm very grateful for everything that I have and everything my family has done for me. I'm still just a normal kid though. I still hang out, I still go fishing with everyone, so I'm not special, I'm just fortunate to have been given the ability to play baseball and to have a family that has put me in certain situations where I had the chance to succeed.
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