Interview With Pitching Prospect Conner Greene

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Saturday, February 20th, 2016
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Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect Conner Greene became somewhat of a household name in the prospect world in 2015 pole-vaulting up the Blue Jays organizational depth chart. The 20-year old hurler toed the rubber through three levels last season ending up in Double-A New Hampshire by seasons end.

The native of Santa Monica, California is not only a promising talent on the diamond but also an aspiring actor with an interesting side plot to his tale. Greene has made cameo appearances on the television show “Anger Management” which stars none other than Charlie Sheen also known in the baseball world as Ricky Vaughn.

Greene laid out his first meeting of Sheen and the relationship they have formed in a recent interview with me:

“First, I want to thank you for asking for the interview Clayton, and let me tell you how this all started. When I was in high school my coach Tony Todd had played high school ball with Charlie and had become his best friend all through his life. I kept after Tony starting in my sophomore year asking, dude introduce me to Charlie. He’s too cool. So Tony keeps putting me off.  He says if you get drafted I will make sure that I introduce the two of you. I got drafted and Tony is a man of his word. First day I met Charlie, I get to go down to the set and we played catch together. He is a real baseball person and most of all he is a great guy. We developed a friendship from there and I go up to the house and hang out and play basketball with him quite often. I am proud to call him my friend.”

Greene made sure to qualify that baseball is his real job and primary focus. “Let’s get this straight baseball is my job, my love, and my passion. If something should come up during the off-season I would love to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The lanky right-hander chalks up to maturing physically as one of the reasons for his breakout campaign as he moves closer to his lifelong goal.

“To be truthful Clayton I have always felt I was a good pitcher. But I finally grew up and matured physically. My goals this year are the same as they have always been.  That is to come out here and be the best ballplayer I can possibly be. To try and build off of each season and to in the end make it to that ultimate goal that I have had since I was six years old. The Major Leagues. That’s not a new goal, they asked me in the first grade what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I told them that I was going to be a big league ball player. I don’t think they really thought that possible at the time. But my father and I we broke it down, 7 to 10 first level, 11 to 14, second level, high school, College was supposed to be in there, I wasn’t in love with school so skipped to the Minor-League, Major League, staying in the Major Leagues.  We had a plan.  I learned all nine positions also because who could’ve guessed exactly what a grown up me was gonna grow into.”

“I played them all.  I even caught my buddy Lucas Giolito.  We played on a travel team my dad coached from when we were nine till we split up to go to different high schools. What was great Lucas and I this year got to go to the MLB Rookie Program in Leesburg, Va. together.  Hopefully we get to go Big together soon also.”

Greene relies on location to get batters out and state his curveball is a still a work in progress after finally listening to the advice of scouts.
“According to the scouts which I now am starting to understand, I need my curveball to look like my fastball to get the hitters out at higher levels. Maybe I was slow to come around because it always felt like it had been a good pitch for me because it had worked at the lower levels as I didn’t always have and an overpowering fastball. That was a good thing because I learn how to pitch before I learned how to throw hard. I’m always working on something though and as they say in real estate, location is key.”
The young hurler presents wise beyond his years as he discussed where he may begin the season and his day to day approach to pitching.

“You know what they say about assuming.  Actually one of my gifts is to take one day at a time. The club will send me where they think is best. So to answer your question I assume I will be starting in AA. My job is to go out there and strike somebody out or get a ground ball and to get out of the inning. Some days I’m great at it, some days I need to wait  for five more days to get the ball again and I try to be better than the last time.  My father has instilled in me that baseball is an up-and-down game. And the more ups you have the higher you get to go.”

Greene will report to spring training in Dunedin on Monday as pitchers and catchers officially gear up for the season. The hurler spoke about what he is most looking forward to in the coming weeks at camp.

“What a thrill to be invited. This is my dream coming true. I’m gonna love the whole thing. I’m excited and I’ve just got to take a deep breath and do what I’ve been doing my whole life. I’m gonna watch and I’m gonna learn how a big leaguer carries himself from day today. I’m looking forward to meeting them all. I really am a team kind a guy. When I was a kid though and when I did watch the Dodgers and when I got to go to Dodger games, Russell Martin was a beast. To think that I might have a chance to pitch to Russell Martin is going to be such a huge honor.”

Greene spent parts of last season riding the buses with the Jays best organizational prospect in Anthony Alford. Here is what he had to say about the toolsy prospect.

“I was impressed with Anthony from the first day I was out there.  We came into extended spring together and every time he came off the field I would tell him, you and me 1 and 2. It became my little inside mantra with him. You and me 1 and 2. And it’s crazy that now some other people are saying the same thing. Crazy. Far out crazy.  It’s hard for me to compare him to other players to be honest I never was the kind a guy that sat around and watched baseball on TV or anywhere else for that matter. I had to be doing something, soccer, basketball, surfing, and I even played football my sophomore year in high school. What I saw in Anthony Alford was an outstanding athlete. I knew he was gonna be a great baseball player. Maybe if things don’t work out here I could be a good scout like the scout that drafted me, Jim Lintine.”

The former 7th round pick doesn’t emulate himself around any one player but instead relied on his family and the athletic bloodlines that run in the Greene family.

“Again I didn’t try to emulate anyone, didn’t really watch anyone. I just like to play the game and it is something that naturally runs in my family. My grandfather, my father and my brother were all really good baseball players that all probably could’ve had professional careers if they had chosen. My brother has become world ranked fighter in Glory Kickboxing and MMA after he gave up baseball. I guess the game was a little too mellow for him.  It’s all about passion. He was also great at hockey.  I’ve always looked up to him and was crawling into baseball huddles when my dad was coaching and my brother playing when I was two years old. They tell me I was at the baseball field when I was three days old. It’s been in my life from the beginning.”

Greene compares his current minor league experience as a vacation maximizing all that he can from each and every day.
 
“I wouldn’t call any of it a struggle. I take each day and every day and wring everything out of it. I love doing what I’m doing.  It’s more like a vacation.  Only thing I would change maybe are the darn bus rides. I have to say, I will be glad to get off the bus. But I would not know that if I had not had to stay on the bus, so even that is a great lesson to go through.  Oh and I probably wouldn’t have stayed in extended spring training as long as I did if I had my choice.  It did try my patience a little.”
In closing Greene touched on his knowledge or lack thereof of Canada which is understandable being from the “Golden State.”

“I knew it was up north somewhere and yep that’s about it. It’s become my favorite destination in the world though. I’m going to love every second of that for sure.”

I want to thank Conner for taking the time to let Baseball Hot Corner learn a little more about him and wish him nothing but the best in 2016 and beyond. Give him a follow on Twitter to track his journey to the show @connergreene.

Greene and Sheen

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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher







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