Scouting Yankees Prospect #20: Shane Greene

Greene's control finally caught up to his stuff

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Shane Greene in the 15th round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of Daytona State College. Despite having some of the best pure stuff in the entire farm system, he had flown under the radar of most pundits because his minor league numbers simply were not very good but he turned that around in a big way last season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Shane Greene
Position: Pitcher
DOB: November 17, 1988
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He entered the 2013 campaign with a career 4.79 ERA in his first four professional seasons and was coming off a career-worst 5.03 walks per nine innings the year prior, but he turned things around in a huge way last season, posting a combined 3.38 ERA and walking less than two batters per innings between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2013.

"I went into the season with a couple of small goals that I knew if I accomplished that I could have some success and that's exactly what I did," he said. "I told myself that if I didn't walk more than a few guys and if I pitched five innings no matter what that I could be a lot more successful, and that's what I did. Winning a championship is always fun too so I think it was a great year."

His stuff and delivery had always belied the talent over the years, however. He was simply a case of a pitcher who just wouldn't -- not couldn't -- throw enough strikes.

"I think it was all approach," he said of his earlier days. "When I was drafted I was told I was good and I don't know if it was expectations being too high -- I mean, I already have high expectations for myself -- but I was always told my stuff was really good and I just think I put too my pressure on myself.

"When I simplified things and didn't worry about mechanical things, and just told myself to go after batters, I had a lot more success."

He had finally started trusting his plus stuff. More of a true sinker-ball pitcher, one whose great diving fastball could easily sit in the mid-90s deep into games, he started using his fastball repertoire a bit differently last year.

"I worked mostly two-seam early in the season. If I threw 50 fastballs, 45 of them were two-seamers. When I got to Tampa though and started working with Tommy Phelps we worked with better sequencing on my four-seam.

"I learned how to work it off of my two-seamer so if I went inside on a lefty with a two-seamer I'd go right back at him in the same spot with the four-seamer and it wouldn't get that same run over the plate, stuff like that."

Inducing as many ground balls as he does, it isn't too surprising that his on the field success has gotten better as the defensive infields behind have improved the higher he climbs his way through the minor leagues.

More than just a fastball pitcher, however, Greene can attack batters with either a plus changeup or one of the best sliders around too.

"My slider is still my go-to pitch," he reiterated. "I've gained a lot of confidence with my changeup over the years. It's still a very good pitch for me but when I need that big strike I'll still go to the slider because that is definitely my best [secondary] pitch."

Always known for his three plus pitches, Greene, who began utilizing his four-seam fastball a bit more last season, also added another wrinkle into an already devastating repertoire.

"I call it a cutter. It acts like a slider but I just grip it differently and it's a little harder. This coming season I'm going to throw them like they're two different pitches.

"There will be a signal for a slider and a signal for a cutter, and I'll throw both of them. Some people might calling it a breaking ball and a slider, but it will be a slider and a cutter. Like working in my four-seam more, I'm going to work in my cutter."

'Stuff' had never been his problem, however, even in the years when he was posting ERA's above 5.00. His problem, which would now appear rectified, had been throwing enough strikes earlier in counts to consistently get ahead.

Now that he has seen what he can do when he does attack batters more, Greene, who was added to the 40-man roster this offseason, is finally believing he is one of the better pitchers in the farm system.

"That's a double-edged sword -- if I say I'm confident then it can almost sound cocky but I think you need to be confident on the mound, and I am. I think if I stick to the same approach that I had last year, no more than a couple of walks and pitching at least five innings each start, I can be just as good.

"I don't really want to improve on much, I just want to keep it going. It goes to the old saying, if it ain't broke don't fix it. As long as I keep throwing strikes, getting ahead in counts, and sticking to that approach, I think I can be pretty good," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2013

Trenton

8-4

0

79.1

92

20

68

3.18

2013

Tampa

4-6

0

75.0

83

10

69

3.60

2012

Tampa

4-7

0

112.0

113

63

101

5.22

2011

Charleston

5-14

0

138.0

141

68

128

4.37

2010

Charleston

0-2

0

19.0

14

8

22

4.58

2010

Staten Island

2-6

0

49.0

57

21

44

4.59

2009

GCL Yankees

1-2

0

23.0

30

6

20

5.87



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Cutter.

Fastball. Greene is a bit of an anomaly. He is a power pitcher who will sit in the mid-90s but he does it mostly with a sinking two-seamer, one which generates a lot of movement. He averaged between 93-94 mph last season, he tops out at 97 mph pretty routinely, and he'll maintain that velocity deep into his starts too. He has started throwing his four-seam fastball a bit more recently just to give hitters a different plane but it too is another high quality pitch.

Other Pitches. Greene's best pitch has been and still remains his plus slider. It averages 82-85 mph, it gets a lot of late break, and he has a real knack for commanding it within the zone. He added a cutter this past season, one that will average 86-88 mph, and it too gets some real late break as well. It's already a big league pitch and it shows long-term plus potential. He rounds out his repertoire with another wildly moving pitch -- his plus changeup. It gets great fade and depth just like his two-seam fastball, making it tough on hitters to decipher the difference.

Pitching: Greene had always had the plus stuff -- three pitches with a nice blend of power and movement -- but he lacked the aggressive approach to allow his arsenal to play to its optimal level. His confidence has risen lately simply because he's made it more of a self-mandate to throw earlier strikes, get ahead in counts, and let his stuff overpower batters. He still gives up a few too many hits but those numbers should decrease as the defenses behind him get better the higher he climbs. He is extremely athletic which helps him field his position well and despite not being a physical brute he has a lot of natural strength and endurance.

Projection. With three plus pitches in his back pocket, a fourth one with long-term plus potential still developing in his cutter, and seemingly a rubber arm that allows him to log a ton of innings and remain injury-free, Greene's ceiling has always been incredibly high -- high enough to pitch like a potential front-half of a big league rotation starting pitcher some days. His control was the issue and for now that seems to have been corrected. If he can prove that his 2013 sub-two walks per nine innings wasn't a fluke he will fit in nicely into the back-end of a big league starting rotation initially and has enough ceiling to consistently further slide his way up along role-wise.

ETA. 2014. Greene should be ticketed for some needed Triple-A experience this coming season and, now a member of the 40-man roster, he will be on the short list of available starting pitchers in the Bronx should the need arise.

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