COMPTON — Standing in the middle of a baseball field at the MLB Youth Academy, a small group of preteen baseball players had a lot of questions for Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene.
“I feel like you’re either a Playstation person or an Xbox person,” the Stevenson Ranch native told the group as each player locked eyes on him.
He chatted for a little, the jogged over to another group of kids to field grounders. The sequence repeated over and over at the second annual Hunter Greene Baseball Fest on Sunday afternoon.
Over 150 boys and girls age 8 to 14 participated in the day-long camp, which featured different stations in which the players worked on myriad baseball skills.
“The best part for me was seeing the kids smile and have fun,” Greene said. “A lot of them learned a lot, asked a lot of questions which is good because younger kids, they’re shy and don’t ask questions and they weren’t today. They asked a lot of really good questions about stuff on the field and off the field.”
Players received instruction from Greene and several other professional baseball players including Milwaukee Brewers prospect Ja’Von Ward and Los Angeles Angels prospect Jo Adell.
In addition to baseball instruction, the instructors dispensed advice on how to work hard and surround yourself with people who provide motivation and encouragement.
The pros learned a little something from the players, too.
“I learned one major thing from these kids. The energy level was incredible.” Adell, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft said. “Most of these kids woke up at 7 a.m. and have been part of this for the whole entire day. Running, switching stations, doing different drills, sitting through meetings, all of that. At their age to do all of that, the sky is the limit.”
Greene was drafted No. 2 overall by the Reds in the 2017 MLB Draft and grew up in Santa Clarita. He attended Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks for prep baseball.
He most recently played for the Dayton Dragons, logging a 4.48 ERA in 18 games, but grew up playing with guys like Ward at the MLB Youth Academy.
“It’s really cool because we’re so close in age to them that they look at us like a role model and we were doing the same thing to guys our age when we were that age too,” Ward said. “It’s really good to come back and you never know who’s going to be the next big person, too, so it nice to be here and see all them.”
The day ended with a series of competitions for pitching and base running as well as a home run derby. Winners of the events were treated to a $500 Adidas Shopping spree with Greene immediately after.
Greene said he wants to keep the Baseball Fest going and is considering expanding it to Cincinnati and the Bay Area next year. He’s also hoping his fellow MLB prospects from the SCV share his passion for giving back, even when it’s as simple as talking to kids about video game consoles.
“That’s something that’s so important; to give back to the community and to the kids,” said Greene. “We have so may resources and we’re on a pedestal where we can use our reputation ad our career for good.”