In order for the Yankees to dole out an overslot bonus for Anthony Volpe, the team’s first rounder, the team needed to draft at least one college senior for bonus pool savings. That’s exactly where the team’s eighth rounder, Zach Greene, came into play. Let’s get to know him.
Greene, a right-handed pitcher, hails from Jacksonville, Florida. He played his high school ball at Atlantic Coast High School, also in Jacksonville. His collegiate trajectory thereafter is a little all over the place.
He attended UNC-Asheville out of the gate and pitched in 15 games as a freshman. All of those appearances were in relief, and he recorded a 4.56 ERA in the role. His strikeout total was decent (23), but he walked far too many opponents (14) in 23.2 innings.
The 6-foot-1, 215 pound righty’s next step was to transfer out of UNC-Asheville. For his sophomore season, he pitched at St. John’s River Community College in Florida, where he was dominant out of the bullpen. In 29 innings, Greene racked up 46 strikeouts and allowed just 6 runs (3 earned). He still walked a few too many (15), but his performance was exceptional enough to get him back into the D-I ranks.
Greene’s final collegiate stop was with South Alabama University, where he completed his junior and senior seasons. He took a big step forward in his junior campaign, once again as a reliever (though he did make two starts). In 57 innings, Greene notched 80 strikeouts to just 13 walks en route to a 3.79 ERA. It’s also worth mentioning that he allowed three home runs, which is noteworthy because they are the only dingers he allowed in his entire collegiate career. After that campaign, the Marlins drafted him in the 15th round of the 2018 draft, but he decided to return to school.
As a senior, Greene delivered another stellar performance. In 49.2 innings, he posted a microscopic 1.45 ERA, struck out 70, and walked only 8. The 22 year-old righty also notched 13 saves for Jaguars.
What do the scouts say?
There’s not much out there on Greene, which is understandable for a late round college senior. Nonetheless, MLB Pipeline has this snippet:
Greene’s ERA was under 1 for nearly all of his senior season at South Alabama, and the 6-foot-1, 215-pound right-hander finished the year with a 1.45 mark while recording 13 saves. His fastball sits in the 89-93 range but he racks up the strikeouts — he had 70 in his 49 2/3 innings — and he gets a lot of swings-and-misses in the strike zone. He was also drafted last year, by the Marlins in the 15th round.
Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline expanded on Greene’s fastball in a tweet after he signed:
8th-rder Zach Greene’s bonus w/@Yankees is $17,500 (pick 255 value = $160,800). South Alabama senior RHP, 1.45 ERA, 70/9 K/BB in 49.2 IP, hitters miss his invisible 89-93 mph fastball because of its fade & sink & run. @MLBDraft— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 11, 2019
Baseball America (subs. required) has a little more information on the righty. The publication is in line with MLB Pipeline’s fastball velocity report, but also adds that it’s a high spin rate offering. Additionally, BA notes that Greene throws a slider in the low-80s and is developing a changeup. There’s no word on the quality of either of those offerings, but it definitely sounds like his heater is the calling card.
Finally, Vinnie Cervino of Perfect Game USA noted that Greene is more of an “analytical darling” because his high strikeout totals as compared to his stuff.
Signing bonus and what’s next
Greene signed for a $17,500 bonus, well below the $160,800 value of the 255th pick. That’s pretty typical for a college senior without any leverage.
After putting pen to paper, Greene was sent to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League. So far, he’s appeared in 9 games and thrown 11 innings. Similar to his college career, he’s tallied plenty of strikeouts (14), limited walks (3), and has a good ERA (2.45). Moving up to rookie-level Pulaski or Short-Season A-ball is probably out of the question this season given crowded rosters at each step. Greene should be at one of those levels next season.
Again, it’s hard to have a “take” for an eighth rounder in the MLB draft. All told, it does look like a sound pick as the Yankees needed to find savings somewhere in order to sign Volpe. Further, there does seem to be some upside for Greene if he can gain a couple of ticks on his fastball, which the Yankees are known to do with their prospects. He was a strong performer in his college career and is off to a nice (albeit brief) professional start, so it’s not hard to envision him slowly working his way up in a relief role, even if he is doubtful to ever have a major league role. Keep in mind that not every pick has to be a sure fire major leaguer; org guys are important too.