Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene had fans and team executives on the edge of their seats as he began his first Triple-A start for the Louisville Bats by imposing his will on opposing batter.
Now he’s breathing down the back of MLB competition and chomping at the bit to start flaming batters.
The Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect gave up four home runs and a walk for the Bats, but he also gave hitters the gas face with eight strikeouts in a 6-5 defeat at Omaha.
The 2017 second-overall pick threw 46 of his 73 pitches for strikes to finish his rollercoaster ride of a day by striking out the side in order in the fourth inning.
Don’t buy too much stock in the home run narrative, as in all actuality, we know that hitters eschew at the plate when facing such exorbitant pitches. Instead, hitters will stick their bats out over the plate to stop the mortification with hopes of making contact.
Guys with mega-high velocity are generally relievers, not starting pitchers.
Since 2008 only five pitchers sniffed the 104-mph mark in Major League history, including closer Aroldis Chapman, who did it 67 times in his illustrious career, and fellow MLB bro Jordan Hicks, who did it 12 times.
Top prospect Hunter Greene has been promoted to the Bats!
Greene dominated on the mound during his time with Double-A Chattanooga. He fanned 60 hitters in 41 innings while allowing only 27 batters to hit safely, leading to a 5-0 record and a 1.98 earned run average.
Those accumulated stats were Greene’s first game action since 2018 after he missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery and 2020 due to the pandemic.
Before receiving the call to the Reds Triple-A affiliate, Greene, in his final outing, struck out nine in six shutout innings for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
Reds manager David Bell addressed the following about the possibility of Greene making the jump to the show.
Bell told Cincinnatti.com, ” I don’t think that’s unreasonable for any guys in Triple-A.” He added, ” He is getting close.”
Greene is more than close to making his jump to the pro level. The race is on between him and Vanderbilt sensation Kumar Rocker as to who will become the next great Black pitcher.
The results of his debut may not have been overwhelming, but Greene still impressed the masses with his velocity during his final three innings before getting pulled. With performances such as this under his belt, Greene, sooner rather than later, may force the Reds hand to make the call.
CC Sabathia retired from baseball in 2019 after a successful career. Ever since he’s retired from the league, he’s been putting in work and transforming his body.
Sabathia certainly doesn’t look how he did when he was playing. Our MLBbro is out here looking like a bodybuilder and he looks like he can still dominate on the mound.
Though Sabathia had success throughout his career, his weight was something he struggled with.
“My tagline as a baseball player was mass equals gas,” Sabathia said in an episode of Men’s Health’s Eat Like. “And I always thought the bigger I was, the better I pitched. And that was always the case for me.”
At one point during his career, he weighed over 300 pounds. 342 pounds to be exact.
But if you saw a recent picture of him and didn’t know who he was, you would never think he weighed that much.
It’s a process and a consistent routine that Sabathia sticks to daily. And it’s not all about working out, he’s eating healthier as well which is a good balance to have.
As you can see, his hard work is definitely paying off.
According to a Yahoo.com article, Sabathia wakes up around 6:30 a.m. to eat breakfast and then heads to the gym to work out with his trainer.
That is something Sabathia does six days a week and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
Sabathia had a health scare towards the end of his career and that prompted a change to his health.
It was in 2018 when he was doing a training session with his trainer.
“I was in there working out, and he was like bro, you’re white,” Sabathia told Menshealth.com. “You need to go get checked out.”
When he went to the hospital, he ended up needing a stent because of a 90 percent blockage in an artery to his heart.
That will wake somebody up for sure and open their eyes to see that a change needs to be made.
Sabathia wasted no time and after he retired, he got to work.
The lefty had an exceptional career on the mound. He played 19 seasons in the league and during that time he won a World Series title and won an AL Cy Young award.
Not to mention he was a six-time All-Star and led the league in wins twice.
He finished his career with 251 wins and 3,093 strikeouts.
Those are some impressive accomplishments and numbers right there and he was doing that weighing close to 300 pounds.
Just think, if Sabathia had the body he has now and was in the league, he could have been even more dominant.
But he still was able to make a name for himself and establish himself as one of the most dominant pitchers to ever take the mound.
It won’t be too long until his name will be called in Cooperstown. But until then you might want to follow his journey because the transformation he has made is a sight to see.
Being a relief pitcher in baseball has to be the greatest job in the world. Observing the action from the bullpen, you have one of the best views in sports to watch the greatest game ever created.
Despite that, it comes with a high price as the pressure is on 100 percent, the second you enter the game.
After just the first half of the season, a few of our MLBbro relievers have become diamonds under the pressure.
Here is my #HighFive list of a few current black relievers and how they have fared this season.
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slower start than expected this season after posting a 0.33 ERA in 2020, but has recently stemmed the tide and appears to be back to his dominant self. He currently has a 3.55 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 25 innings.
In six appearances during June, he has only given up one run while striking out 11. He also has only given up more than two hits in an appearance three times this year and has not allowed a home run since April 24.
The Brewers are tied for first place in the NL Central. Williams will need to continue to lock the 7th and 8th innings down in order to get the ball to Brewers’ closer Josh Hader who is one of the filthiest in all of baseball.
David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers
Black Ace Club Member, five-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion David Price is taking on a new challenge this season as he is coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers for the first time since his World Series run during his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Price is one of the most accomplished Black starters in the history of baseball and for sure in the current generation. His 20-win season in 2012 gave him the green light to enter the Black Ace fraternity but with the Dodgers being loaded with pitching options it was thought that Price would be best used out of the bullpen.
His first two outings this year were a little shaky, but we’ll take that as time spent getting used to his new role. After giving up five runs in his first two starts, only four runners have scored in 14 appearances.
Price has an ERA of 3.74 with 24 strikeouts and a 2-0 record, his most recent win coming on Monday after 0.2 innings of scoreless baseball. He is no longer using speed to blow batters away, rather movement and ball placement have led to many ground balls and fly ball outs for him.
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
Amir Garrett is literally the biggest reliever in the game. He stands 6-foot-5, 239 pounds, and was suspended earlier this season for seven games after being involved in a benches-clearing brawl against the Chicago Cubs in the beginning of May.
Amir Garrett strikes out Anthony Rizzo, words are exchanged and then both benches clear during the Reds and Cubs game. pic.twitter.com/dGX508V2Gh
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) May 1, 2021
He saw struggles before his return, but when he arrived he came with a vengeance, allowing only three runs in eight appearances and 10 strikeouts for the rest of May.
After a bump in the road to start June, Garrett has still been a great anchor for the Reds’ bullpen. In his last four games, he has given up one run in three innings and has struck out six. It may take a while to bring his 8.34 ERA down to more of a respectable number. He’ll need to stay dominant and keep his focus on one start at a time.
Taylor Hearn and Demarcus Evans, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are the only bullpen in baseball with multiple Black relievers. One throws for the left side and the other the right, but both get it done by throwing flames in Texas’ heat.
Hearn made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and has had a Jekyll and Hyde beginning to the first three months of the season. After a few April struggles, he seemed to turn it around in May as he posted a 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings.
As the calendar turned to June, Hearns arrow shifted in a downward direction. He has given up six runs in six innings, three of them being home runs.
Evans made his MLB debut May 25 and has instantly become one of the team’s best relievers. He won the team’s Minor League Reliever of the Year award for two straight seasons and he’s showing the batters in the Majors are not much tougher. In 8.1 innings, he has only given up two runs and has 11 strikeouts with a 2.16 ERA.
Resilience is the common characteristic found in the makeup of strong MLB relievers. Evans has that. He’s got guts too.
With the Rangers appearing to be in seller mode as the trade deadline inches closer, Hearn and Evans have the chance to showcase their abilities to be stable pieces in the bullpen for years to come.
MLBbro.com is always celebrating the exclusive Black Ace fraternity and educating people on exactly what a Black Ace is.
Those conversations — about Black excellence in pitching and the pioneers of the game — always lead back to former Major League Baseball all-star pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who made it his business to chronicle how incredible an accomplishment it is for a Black pitcher to win 20 games.
Grant is the first African-American 20-game winner in the American League (Minnesota Twins, 1965) and the first African-American to win a World Series Game in the American League (1965).
Mudcat passed away on Saturday at the age of 85, leaving MLB with another lost icon.
The entire Minnesota Twins organization is saddened by the death of former pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who passed away at the age of 85. RIP Mudcat. pic.twitter.com/C5I9Bap9Yo
Via thewrap.com,“Grant spent seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians at the start of his pitching career, then got traded to the Minnesota twins in 1964 where he would go on to blossom into an ace pitcher the following season. Grant went 21-7 with a 3.30 ERA. Grant played for the Twins for four seasons and also played for the Oakland A’s, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Grant retired in 1971 with a record of 145-119 and 54 saves.
Grant was born in 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida where he went on to become a two-sport athlete in baseball and football, at Florida A&M.”
What’s A Black Ace?
Mudcat is the leader of an exclusive fraternity that hasn’t had a member enter since 2012, when Price went 20-5 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The book is a historically accurate description of the lives of the thirteen African-American 20-game winners in the Majors that existed when the book was released in 2007.
The 15 Black Aces
Canadian-born Ferguson Jenkins won 20-games or more a remarkable seven times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)
Bullet Bob Gibson did it five times (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970)
Dave Stewart did it four times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)
Don Newcombe (1951, 1955 and 1956), and Vida Blue (1971, 1973, 1975) both won 20 or more games three times.
Dontrelle Willis (2005), CC Sabathia (2010), David Price (2012), Al Downing (1971), Dwight Gooden (1985), Sam Jones (1959), Mike Norris (1980), J.R. Richard (1976), Earl Wilson (1967) and of course, Mudcat Grant (1965) all did it once.
Respect Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart is the last Black pitcher to post multiple 20-win seasons. To put this into perspective, in the history of Major League Baseball only five black pitchers have eclipsed the 20 wins mark multiple times in a career.
Two of the five are in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Jenkins, who won more than 250 games in a 14-year career, and Gibson, who did it five times in a span of only six years. Gibson was so unhittable in 1968, that MLB lowered the mound to make it easier for hitters to deal with such Black dominance
Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was the first black pitcher to ever win 20 (1951), and Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics during the 1970s, each reached the achievement three times.
Price and CC are the last of MLB’s Black Aces.
Sabathia went 21-7 with the Yankees in 2010 after signing a huge free agent deal and then leading the Yankees to their first World Series in almost a decade in 2009. Price went 20-5 as the ace workhorse for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012.
With the way pitching philosophy and culture have changed in the past decade, we may never see another Black or Brown 20-game winner again. So we must hold all Black Aces in the highest esteem because it’s one of the rarest achievements in baseball.
We also must remember and cherish the memory of Mudcat Grant, a pioneer who endured and defeated way more than just prolific hitters, in order to secure his legacy.
We can never overlook the racism and the excruciatingly volatile circumstances that these pitchers had to perform under.
Never performing on an even playing field. Always having to be superhuman almost, just to do the simple things that their white counterparts took for granted.
Lighters, glasses, hands up in the air for a true sports icon. RIP Mudcat.