With the 5th selection in last night’s draft, the Detroit Tigers took OF Riley Greene from Hagerty High School in Oviedo, FL. He is just the latest piece to be added to an already promising farm system.
Undoubtedly the best pure high school hitter in the 2019 MLB Draft and arguably the best hitter overall, Riley Greene looks like he could be something special at the plate, which is a big need for the Detroit Tigers as they are extremely pitcher-heavy in their farm system. The Tigers have not selected a hitter in the round since 2014 when they picked OF Derek Hill.
Greene ended his senior season with a .422 batting average with 8 home runs and 27 RBIs. He also impressed last summer in the 18U USA Baseball circuit batting .424/.548/1.396 with 3 home runs (T-1st on the team) and 20 RBIs (1st) in 9 games.
Greene’s success at the plate can evidently be attributed to his beautiful left-handed stroke. When I look at Greene’s swing it reminds me of Dodger’s OF/1B Cody Bellinger and Minnesota Twin’s OF prospect and 2015 #15 overall pick Alex Kirilloff (#12 overall prospect). All three of these guys possess smooth, almost effortless left-handed swings with not too much extra movement going on.
More importantly, all three utilize their entire bodies into their swings which leads to their high power numbers. Bellinger and Kirilloff, as well as Greene, all take advantage of their strong legs to create as much power as possible. No surprise here, either.
Bellinger’s father played in the big leagues and Kirilloff’s dad, as well as Greene’s dad, are both hitting instructors, so they all were raised and taught by the best growing up. Greene swings like both of these studs, and if he produces like the both of them, the DetroitTigers are getting something really special.
Greene has a 60-hit grade according to MLB.com and is projected to someday play a corner outfield spot in the major leagues. He also has experience at first base, so there is a little versatility there.
I expect him to be an average defender. I don’t think he will ever win a gold glove, but he certainly won’t be a liability out there. All in all, the Tigers drafted him for his bat. Let’s get that straight. I can absolutely see this kid hitting .300-.330 with 30 HRs in his prime if his power continues to develop at this rate. For now, he will certainly boost the Tigers’ farm system quite a bit in the hitting department, and hopefully, he can boost Detroit’s big league lineup in a few years.