Nolin Lake State Park is reasonably 30-40 miles north east of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Somewhere in the woods of that park is a young man wearing camouflage possibly in a certain shade of green. You can't see him, I can't see him, and most importantly, the deers can't see him... and that's just the way that young man likes it.
I can't think of a more fitting name for a man who loves to hunt, fish, and go boating, other than; Hunter Green.
Hunter Green is a high-end pitching prospect for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I had to catch him right after deer hunting where his father Greg, sister Lindsey, and himself all got their bucks to bring back to his mother Judy, who loves to do some cooking back at the cabin. I also had to get him right before duck hunting season started up. He's a very busy young man who loves the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and of course, baseball, which he's very good at.
Green was taken in the second round (59th overall) of the 2013 June Draft out of Warren East High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Green was committed to the University of Kentucky, but instead signed with the Angels, and is guaranteed an invitation to Spring Training in 2014. At Warren East, Green maintained a 0.14 earned-run-average while striking out 110 over 51.0 innings pitched, having 20 of those strikeouts coming in a no-hitter. Green won the 2013 Mr. Kentucky Baseball Award (best high school baseball player in Kentucky), joining 2013 Angels, Scott Downs (1994), Joe Blanton (1999), and Collin Cowgill (2004). This past professional season with the Arizona League Angels, Green had a 4.32 earned-run-average over eight games with opposing players at the plate hit .254 against him. What I found most impressive was how well he shut down left-handed batters, as they hit just .111 against Hunter.
Green's fastball sits anywhere from 87-93 depending on his delivery and arm slot (which he brings up in the interview) and has good sinking movement to it. He has developed a good off-speed pitch in a curve. The southpaw's deadliest pitch is probably his changeup which easily could have been the best from high-schoolers out of the 2013 draft.
When Hunter answered the phone when I called him, I thought I'd mistaken him for his father when I heard a deep southern accent and had a short conversation with the young professional. I can't say enough about Hunter's attitude towards the game, the humility he shows, and the love he has for his family.
Hopefully you can come away with a good idea of the outstanding character Mr. Green shows in the interview I did with him. Without any more delay, here you go, enjoy the read.
Scout : First off, tell me about your first season in professional baseball:
Green : It was an awesome experience! I mean, I get to go out there and do what I love every single day and that was a changing for me. I wasn't used to getting to do baseball as a job and doing it 24/7, and getting to do that is a dream come true. Getting down there (Tempe, Arizona), it's a lot harder competition and I always love a good competition, so that was a good thing about it. Starting out at first, it was hard on me. Just a young high school kid coming in at 17-years-old and I got there being far away from home and missing my family, but you know, I had to overcome the obstacles and just had to worry about chasing my dream. Getting through that and after that, I had a blast. I got to meet a lot of new people, got to learn a lot of new things so, I had a great time.
Scout : What was your draft experience like, and how special was it?
Green : I was actually at my house. It was me, my mom, my dad, and my sister. We were sitting out back watching it and the first rounds already gone through, and we were starting to get worried. You know, is something wrong? Finally, my scouting director (Ric Wilson) gives me a call and said, "we'd like to take you as our first pick, 59th overall, what do you think?" and I was like, "yeah of course I'll go!" and so we were sitting there anxious and finally David Eckstein gets up to do the pick for the Angels and as he called my name we just all started going crazy. My phone started ringing off the hook. My phone was blowing up so much that it just shutdown. A lot of people came in to my house, coaches, family, everybody showed up, so that was a great night. I'll never forget that.
Scout : What have coaches worked on the most with you?
Green : The biggest thing they've been working on with me is delivery. I've had some problems with leaking my front side and dragging, so they're just giving me a lot of drills and trying a new delivery with me just to help me stay back over the rubber so i can keep my velocity up. Sometimes I mess up in my delivery and my arm slot gets lower and I start losing feel for all my pitches. Also, just working on secondary stuff.
Scout : How have your off-speed pitches developed?
Green : Off-speed has gotten ten times better. I mean, before I got drafted I had a good feel for it and I knew what to do to make it move, but I had no control of it and I couldn't put it where I wanted in certain situations. But, once I got drafted and got down there they taught me a new grip for my changeup and they just pounded that in my head and made me work on it all the time. I'd play long toss with it and throw flat ground with it. Breaking ball, they've done the same thing with me and taught me drills for it and it has gotten a million times better. I can control it, I can put it where I want to in certain counts. I can make it for first pitch strike, I can do it on an 0-2 count. So it's gotten ten times better.
Scout : What are your plans for the offseason, other than hunting?
Green : Besides hunting, I'm just in the gym all the time and keeping my body in shape. I'm trying to put weight on, that's the biggest thing for me. They want me to gain another ten pounds. I gained fifteen while i was down there, and just putting weight on and getting more strength on is the biggest thing for me. I have to just keep grinding the entire offseason and not stop. Hopefully, I can make it to Burlington (Low-A) after Spring Training.
Scout : What are your goals for the 2014 season?
Green : After Spring Training, I'd love to break off and go to Burlington and play. I'd like to be a lot more consistent in the strike zone and bring my walks down, because I had a really hard time with that this year in my first season. I had a lot of walks, so I would like to be more consistent in the strike zone and be more dominant mostly.
I have to thank Hunter for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this interview with me. He is a great pitcher, and from what I've gotten to know over a short time, an even better person. Also, I'd like to thank the entire Green family for their time as well (Thanks Judy, Greg, and Lindsey!). It will be exciting to watch Hunter pitch over the next few seasons, and hopefully soon, at Angel Stadium in an Angels jersey.
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