Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Conner Greene‘s 2017 season
I had big plans for Conner Greene in 2017. He was going to dominate the Eastern League, thanks to improved control, head to Buffalo. Once in Buffalo, Toronto Blue Jays fans and media would start calling for Greene to be added to the 40-man roster and make his MLB debut. Blue Jays media and blogs would be discussing how good the rotation would be with Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Conner Greene drawing comparisons with Atlanta’s top 3 from the early 90’s.
That’s what was supposed to happen.
Instead, Conner Greene continued to struggle with walks and saw the wheels fall off in the second half of 2017. He would spend the entire season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, his second full season at AA. Greene made headlines when he routinely touched triple digits with his fastball. It’s this overpowering fastball which prompted the Blue Jays to add the right-handed starter to the 40-man roster this off-season.
I wish I could say that 2017 was a tale of two seasons but I’d be lying. I don’t lie. Despite being named to the EL Mid-Season All-Star team by posting a first-half record of 4-6 with a 4.37 ERA, Greene was more lucky than dominate. In 16 first half starts, Greene walked 52 batters in 90.2 innings while striking out 64 and allowing 86 hits.
After the All-Star break, Conner posted a 1-4 record with a 7.29 ERA. In 10 games, one RP appearance, Greene allowed 55 hits with 31 walks and 28 strikeouts over 42.0 IP.
It’s been frustrating watching Greene the past two seasons. I’ve seen the 7th round pick show improvements with his fastball velocity. I’ve seen him develop an outstanding change and a continually improving mid 80’s slider. I’ve also seen Greene dominate with his curve one outing, yet fail to find the strike zone with anything but this fastball in his next start.
From what I’ve heard, there are questions surrounding Conner’s preparation and even his commitment. I can’t speak to this but his between-start preparation definitely appears to be lacking.
Conner Greene Career Stats
|AA (||AA (||Minors||14||16||4.89||43||42||226.1||223||136||123||13||128||155||1.551||8.9||0.5||5.1||6.2|
|A+ (||A+ (||Minors||6||7||2.68||22||22||117.2||110||47||35||6||46||86||1.326||8.4||0.5||3.5||6.6|
|Rk (||Rk (||Minors||4||5||3.80||24||13||90.0||88||46||38||4||33||71||1.344||8.8||0.4||3.3||7.1|
The 6-foot-3 righty pitched 132.2 innings, tied for 2nd on the Fisher Cats, making 25 starts. Right-handed batters hit for a .260 batting average with a 1.96 GO/AO off Greene.
Greene had a decent May with a record of 2-2 and a 3.26 ERA in 5 starts. He walked 12 and struck out 16 while logging 30.1 IP and posted an impressive 2.14 GO/AO.
Conner Greene did a good job of keeping his infielders interested with a 52.1 GB% and 1.86 GB/FB. He also posted a tidy 0.47 HR/9 and 5.9 HR/FB after allowing 10 bombs in 2016.
Conner registered 4 games with 6 or more strikeouts, 2 with 6 and 2 with 7.
Baseball Reference has Greene making two starts where he registered a game score of 60 and one start with a season-high game score of 61.
The native of Santa Monica, CA, managed just two starts of 7IP, threw a season-high 105 pitches, and logged 4 games with 100+ pitches. None of these stats are great but they point out that Greene is stretched out and possibly indicate he has a durable arm.
While I’d like to sum up the lowlights section in two words, poor control, that wouldn’t cut it.
Greene finished the 2017 season with an ugly 83-92 BB-K, walking an astonishing 5.63 batters per 9 frames. You would expect a pitcher with an overpowering fastball like Greene possesses to strikeout greater than 6.24/9IP but Double-A batters know that if they wait Conner out, a walk is just as likely as a strikeout.
It wasn’t just the high number of walks. Greene surrendered greater than a hit per inning pitched, which is why he finished with a disastrous 1.69 WHIP. He also showed an inability to limit the damage once runners got on base as he finished with a 65.1 LOB%.
I couldn’t decide on which month was worse so I’ll present both.
July: 0-3, 9.61 ERA, 5GS, 19.2 IP, 21 BB, and 14 K
August 1-2, 6.61 ERA, 6 GS, 31.1 IP, 42 H, 4HR, 17 BB, 22K
July was ugly. Greene averaged less than 4IP/GS and walked over 9 batters per 9IP. While he managed to pitch deeper in games in August (5IP/GS), the number of home runs and hits allowed can’t be overlooked.
Greene allowed 13 wild pitches and managed to hit the strike zone with just 60.17 % of his pitches. This resulted in three games with 5 walks and season-high 8 walks in one game.
To be honest, I’ve not got a clue.
Since he was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster, I expect that he will receive a long look and instruction in Spring Training.
I’d love to see Greene converted to the bullpen and join the Blue Jays out of Spring Training. Give a chance to work with a major league pitching staff/coaches/catchers. It is possible that with the right tutelage, Greene could develop into a shutdown reliever with a chance of regaining his ‘starter’ status later in 2018 or 2019.
What would be even better than Grene in Toronto’s bullpen would be to see Greene dominate in the Spring and at Triple-A as a starter.
What I think will happen. Greene will get a chance to start in Buffalo but may find himself back in a Fisher Cats uniform unless he figures out how to control the strike zone. I think Greene will have another down season before figuring it out in 2019.
I hope that I’m wrong.
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