Weeks before Monday’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, in the middle of another interview, shortly after another question, Hunter Greene received a call. Go ahead and answer it, Russell Greene encouraged his son from across the living room in the family’s Stevenson Ranch home. “What’s up, man?” Hunter said. It was Royce Lewis, a friend of Greene’s from the USA Baseball 15U National Team and another Southern California prep baseball star. Lewis had a request: He’d found a picture of himself, Greene and Kentucky high-schooler Jordon Adell and thought it’d be cool for the three friends and high-level draft prospects to sign copies of it, each keeping one. “Would you be down for that?” Lewis asked. “Oh, yeah, that’d be amazing,” Greene said. Monday, the photos’ value skyrocketed when the Minnesota Twins selected Lewis first overall and the Cincinnati Reds picked Greene at No. 2. With the pick, Greene, a recent Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks graduate, became the highest picked player in Santa Clarita Valley history when it comes to the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
“It was awesome,” Greene said on the MLB Network’s broadcast. “I’ve been blessed to be in a positon like this and have great people around me, like my family and my friends.” Greene attended the draft, hosted at MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, New Jersey, with his mother, Senta, father, Russell, sister, Libriti, and brother, Ethan. After hearing his name, the 17-year-old embraced his family and Adell (the Angels’ first-round pick at No. 10) before shedding his dress coat for a Reds jersey and cap. “This is just a once-in-a-lifetime experience where I get to go out and start my career and have a blast with a great ballclub and a great group of guys,” Greene said in a story on MLB.com. As a senior at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Greene posted a .75 ERA in five outings. He hit .324 with six home runs and 28 RBIs while playing a slick shortstop. The Reds picked Greene as a pitcher, but the team’s General Manager Dick Williams didn’t shut down the notion of Greene playing shortstop. “We’re going to leave the door open for both,” Williams said in MLB.com’s story. “This is a very unique situation, something we’ve never been confronted with before. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to go through this with Hunter. “I will say we think the elite talent is there both ways, but pitching will be the first focus, this summer in particular. We want to make sure he builds up some more innings and that will be the focus. While he’s in the process of building up innings, I think he can get at-bats.” Greene, who grew up playing baseball at the Hart complex, is the fifth player from the Santa Clarita Valley to be selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft’s first round. In 1977, Hart grad Tad Venger went to the Reds with pick No. 24. Saugus High grad Roger Salkeld went No. 3 in 1989 to the Mariners. The Royals took Hart’s Mike Montgomery with the 36th pick in 2008. Hart grad and UCLA star Trevor Bauer went No. 3 to the Diamondbacks in 2011.