The latest cover of Sports Illustrated features 17-year-old Hunter Greene as “Baseball’s LeBron or the new Babe.”
No pressure. That is Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino, and LeBron James, 13-time NBA All-Star and four-time league MVP, the magazine is comparing the teenager to.
If Greene really is that good, then the Twins should have their No. 1 pick for the June 12 MLB draft already locked in.
“He’s 17. He mashes. He throws 102. Hunter Greene is the star baseball needs,” the magazine headline continues. “First he has to finish high school.”
The 6-4, 210-pound star from Notre Dame High School of Sherman Oaks, Calif., is projected by many scouts to be one of the top two picks the upcoming draft. The Twins own the No. 1 pick after their franchise-worst 103-loss season.
If Greene is drafted No. 1 overall, he would be the first righthanded high school pitcher ever taken with the top pick. Also, his ability to hit and play short stop have been compared to Alex Rodriguez. So if he flops as a pitcher, the next A-Rod is a nice backup plan.
Sports Illustrated’ Lee Jenkins wrote, “[Greene] hits baseballs 450 feet, throws them 102 mph and gloves them just about anywhere left of second base. When he steps to the plate in batting practice, outfielders shout warnings to the soccer players working out on the adjacent football field, lest they take unexpected headers. At 17, Greene has sent balls out of Petco Park in San Diego and Wrigley Field in Chicago, which is not to imply that he simply deposited them over the fence with a souped-up metal bat. No, he put them out of the stadium completely, with nothing but muscle and wood.”
The feature documents Greene’s journey from child prodigy to establishing himself as the potential No. 1 overall pick and the game’s next superstar. Oh yeah, baseball is only one of many things Green is good at.
Here are some highlights from the story:
The Dodgers’ area scout met him during a pitching lesson when he was nine, deeming his throwing mechanics flawless. Radar guns clocked him at 93 mph when he was 14, the same year UCLA and USC offered him scholarships, well aware that he probably wouldn’t ever step on campus because his draft stock was already so high.
Greene does yoga with a private instructor three times a week. He dabbles in Korean. He wonders if he could ever play “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his violin before taking the field. He listens to hip-hop, mainly Travis Scott, but he’s also kind of country: He owns a dozen Bass Pro Shop hats and casts into Castaic Lake. He spends free periods painting with Joseph Lee, his AP studio art teacher; bright colors and bold images are Greene’s trademarks. … He launched a sock drive this winter for the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, after reading an article about a shortage, then handed out 2,300 pairs on Skid Row. He has received four certificates of recognition from L.A.-area politicians for his community service efforts. He delivered his first speech promoting youth baseball when he was eight … .
“This is exactly the kind of kid we desperately need,” says one major league official.
That might be what the new Twins front office is saying after getting to know Greene.
This is not the first time Sports Illustrated has featured a high school star on its cover and only a handful have become superstars in their respective sport. Among those featured were former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett, Milwaukee Bucks' rising star Jabari Parker, Washington Nationals' star outfielder Bryce Harper and James.
Read the full Sports Illustrated story to learn more about the teenager that could become the face of the Twins franchise for a long time to come.