The Blue Jays giving the Cardinals Conner Greene is quite interesting considering the organization’s plethora of pitching prospects. What does he offer to the organization?
Randal Grichuk was an intriguing player for the St. Louis Cardinals. He offered plenty of potential over the course of his tenure here. However, with the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna in the offseason and Tyler O’Neill last season it was time for him to go. Him leaving the team brought on board to the Cardinals Conner Greene and Dominic Leone.
While I have already offered you what we can expect from Dominic Leone, Conner Greene is a completely different animal. Toronto sending the Cardinals Conner Greene reminds me a lot of the Tyler O’Neill deal for Mike Leake. Greene is a lot like O’Neill in that he’s got a power arm without consistent control like O’Neill is a high power guy with the propensity to strikeout.
What do we know?
On the surface, Greene reminds me a lot of Luke Weaver. He’s a wiry guy with little to no weight on his body with an incredible fastball. Greene stands at 6’3″ 185 lbs and Weaver at 6’2″ 170 lbs. His fastball is even better than Weaver’s. It’s a heavy fastball that kind of explodes out of his arm. However, unlike Weaver, he struggles mightily with control.
Fangraphs gives Greene a 70-grade fastball but a 40-grade command with the potential to become a 45-grade command. In comparison, Weaver actually has a 60-grade present and future value command.
In actual comparison, Junior Fernandez is a closer representation to Greene. Both have a 70-grade fastball with low command, Fernandez holding a 30-grade present value with 40-grade future value.
As I said earlier Greene’s fastball is his bread and butter. It is a 70-grade pitch much in the way that Junior Fernandez and Alex Reyes‘ fastball is a 70-grade pitch. He easily hits the high 90s with this pitch regularly.
Eric Longenham’s explains his fastball this way on FanGraphs “The pitch has heavy sink and arm-side movement, as well as notable downhill angle to the plate.” I think it is this that actually causes him to miss down and away against righties more often.
With the splits unfortunately not available, I can only guess that this actually allows lefties to see the pitch better and prepare to hit the fastball coming towards them.
A.E. Schafer of Viva El Birdos actually mentions that as a result of Greene’s heavy sinking fastball, he naturally induces a lot of contact on the ground. He also mentions that this is part of his problem. Hitters tend to lay off anything but the fastball as the offspeed offerings aren’t consistent.
Fangraphs currently has this slated as a 40/40 grade. However, Longenham mentions this about the curve, “It has traditional power curveball shape, bite, and depth. It projects to a 55 on the scouting scale.”
I can easily see this. In all of the videos, I have watched it has a sharp bite. If he could get a handle on the command of the fastball, the curve could be lethal at a 55 future grade.
This is a pitch that it seems that he doesn’t throw enough. In doing the research, I hardly saw him throw it. This being a high-grade pitch is fascinating though. It should be a pitch he leans on a little more especially considering he has a heavy sinking fastball, but it seems he doesn’t.
Longenhagen again has great insight on Greene’s pitch, “Greene’s changeup is inconsistent and a bit easy to identify out of his hand, as Greene is prone to drop his arm slot when he throws it.” This is fascinating as it would explain the reasons for Greene’s resistance to throw it.
This is Greene’s least used pitch. There is no live game footage of him using the pitch out there. This actually seems like something that will drop out of his repertoire. This is especially considering that he has the curve and change that work better with his release.
Like Longenhagen and Schafer both mention, this smells like a bullpen arm all the way. If Greene can simply improve his control/command a little bit, I could see him in the big leagues as soon as sometime this season. This would be very similar to what we saw out of Sandy Alcantara.
There simply is way too much competition to consider Greene as a viable rotation arm in the big leagues. To even sniff a spot in the rotation, Greene would have to make a significant upgrade in his command and things would have to go very wrong across the Cardinals’ system.
Being a bullpen arm is not a bad thing for Greene as it will allow his inconsistencies to be hidden a little and allow that fastball to pop. Couple that with two potential plus offspeed offerings in his curve and change and you have a solid arm out of the pen.
If the Cardinals can at least develop another bullpen move out of this trade, I think the team absolutely wins the deal.