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by Editor Rick Cabral

Grant Green

The Next Natural

Grant_Green

Grant Green chatting up an associate during his round of batting practice.

The term “The Natural” gets tossed around a lot in baseball, especially when a young player plays at a high level in youth ball and maintains it as he progresses through the system.  

The River Cats Grant Green is one of those players.  

Growing up in Southern California Green staked out shortstop as his position, and posted offensive numbers that made scouts take notice. He was All-CIF Division I as a senior at Canyon High in Anaheim after batting .430 (sophomore), .455 (junior) and .453 (senior) with 75 RBI and 28 steals in his high school varsity career. 

Drafted in the 14th round by San Diego, Green opted to play for University of Southern California, where in three years he posted a career .359 batting average, 48 doubles 20 triples (which places him tied for fifth on the Pac-10 all-time list), 15 home runs and 102 RBI for a .565 slugging average. He also was 32 for 48 in stolen base attempts and finished with a .419 on-base percentage. 

In 2005, following his junior campaign, he was picked for the 2005 USA Junior National Team. 

A Natural. 

At 6’3”, 180 pounds, the lanky Green even moves with the fluidity and grace of a prototypical Hollywood ballplayer. 

In 2009, the Athletics drafted him in the first round (13th overall) and received a reported $2.75 million signing bonus. In two seasons, Green made his mark in pro ball. In 2010 playing shortstop for Single-A Stockton Ports he hit .318 with 20 home runs and 87 RBI, earning him a California League Postseason All-Star selection and a spot in the 2010 All-Star Future game.  

Last year at Midland, however, his average dropped to .291 and the power numbers dipped as well. In July, the A’s moved Green from shortstop to center field, which was unfamiliar territory for the strapping 23-year-old. Still, he was named to the Texas League Postseason All-Star Team as a utility player and the Topps/Minor League Baseball Double-A All-Star Team. 

The Athletics sent Green to the Arizona League where they asked him to change his batting style by widening his stance and trying to pull the ball with power. “It’s getting better,” says Green about the adjustment. “(It’s) More of a load going back and extending through the ball instead of staying inside of it.” 

Green’s batting style in college was patterned after Derek Jeter’s “inside-out swing” which focuses on driving the ball up the middle or to the opposite field. Now, when Green sees an inside pitch, he is encouraged to crush it to left field. 

Now with the River Cats, Green is not only still working on the new stance, but he’s still learning the new defensive position. And while he may platoon in center field with Jermaine Mitchell (a left-handed hitter), Manager Darren Bush says Green will need to learn all three outfield positions, as the A’s prepare him for a future in the pastures. 

Green Left Field

Green admittedly is still learning how to play the outfield.

Green admits that he misses shortstop. It’s a spot he’s played “since I can remember.” He envies the middle infielders who come out for early rounds of fielding. Asked what he works on in defensive drills, he says “Not messing up, it’s that simple,” he laughs. “The goal is to limit the mistakes out there.” 

Green credits USC head coach Chad Kreuter with instilling a work ethic that is paying off in pro ball. 

Some bloggers and fantasy soothsayers see 2012 as a pivotal year for Green, noting that two years ago he was considered the A’s top prospect but since then his stock has fallen to the middle of the A’s Top Ten Prospect List, depending on the ratings service. 

Yet when Green got a late season call-up to the River Cats for the first round of the 2011 playoffs, he got two hits in his first game against the Reno Aces. He laughs now that one of them was a seeing-eyed single. 

Earlier this week in an exhibition game against the Stockton Ports, Green hit a walk-off grand slam, giving the River Cats a victory over their junior partners. A nice finish to spring training and the kind of Hollywood ending one should expect from a player whose favorite baseball movie is—yep—The Natural. 

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Postscript: In his first official at-bat as the River Cats lead-off hitter, Green hit a home run against the Las Vegas 51s.

 Uploaded 04/04/12
Updated 04/06/12

All contents © Rick Cabral 2012

 

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