The Future is Unwritten: Larry Greene
I enjoy violent contrast in tone and mood in my entertainment. There’s just something about it that tickles me. In high school, I wrote a very uplifting short story called, “Charlie’s Bucket,” for Mr. Whitehead’s sophomore English class. In that story, a little boy named Charlie is new at school and is struggling to make friends. He decides, in desperation, to “make” himself a friend using some things he finds lying around in his family’s shed. As you may be able to guess based on the story’s title, he uses a bucket for the head. He returns to school and starts to talk about his new friend, who sounds awesome, around the other kids. The other children at school start to think, “Gee, if Charlie has such a cool friend, he must be pretty cool.” They start to take to Charlie before learning of the bucket. By then, however, they realize that when Charlie was talking about how nice and fun his “friend” was, he was actually describing himself. The kids at school realize this, totally understand and embrace Charlie. The End.
I got an A. Mr. Whitehead loved it. He asked me to do something similar for the next week’s assignment.
A lighthouse attendant is home, waiting for his wife to return from a business trip. He’s prepared a very elaborate, romantic meal for her return. She never comes. Instead, a letter arrives from his wife stating that she’s been swept away by a well endowed co-worker. The attendant climbs to the top of lighthouse and launches himself off of it onto the jagged rocks below. A tale of innocence, imagination and friendship followed a week later by a tale of adultery and suicide. Mr. Whitehead did not think it was appropriate material for a 15 year old to explore. I found the harsh juxtaposition hilarious.
And so we have a fresh, seductive layout here at Crashburn Alley and I’m about to shit all over it with perhaps the most negative report you’ll see me write. It’s not that I take pleasure in Larry Greene’s potential failure. I certainly do not. He seems like a decent young man and I wish him the best. I’d love for him to make a mockery of what I’m about to write and go on a baseball-killing spree from batter’s boxes around the country for the next ten years. But based on what I saw this summer in Lakewood, I cannot objectively predict such things.
Greene has himself a bad body. Listed at an even 6’, he weighs in at a rotund 235lbs. The body is going to limit him to first base/DH. Yes, Greene spent 2013 exclusively in the outfield, but it just isn’t going to work. For me, he just doesn’t have the range (he’s a 25/30 runner on a good day) or feel for the position to even be viable out there. At times, it’s comical. At just 21 years of age, Greene’s body sends up a number of red flags. Bodies like this don’t typically age well so the lifespan of Greene’s “effectiveness” has to be in question even if he does reach the Majors. The weight might also speak to makeup issues. To start 2013, Greene came into camp too fat to play affiliated ball and was kept in extended Spring Training to get into shape.
With first base a seemingly forgone conclusion, Greene has to rake to be worth a damn. The raw power to do so is here, grading out as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. Greene makes it look rather easy during batting practice where he displays good balance and weight transfer through the baseballs as he pulverizes them into orbit. During games, however, Greene is flailing about, swinging as hard as he possibly can at everything he sees and making contact with very little of it. The footwork leading up to the swing is simple and clean, but becomes unbearably messy as he begins to fire. The pitch recognition, eye-hand coordination and bat speed are seriously all lacking as well. It’s a 20 bat right now, and maybe there’s a future 30 in there if you squint really hard. That’s not enough contact to tap into the power and make Greene a viable Major Leaguer at first base. And, honestly, the power doesn’t play at a 70 in games even when he does make contact. There are too many mechanical issues Greene shows at 7 o’clock, that aren’t there at 5 o’clock, and sap his power utility.
I have Greene pegged as an organizational player who’ll probably stick around and move to the upper levels based solely on his lofty draft status. Said draft status (Greene was the 39th overall pick in the historically talented 2011 draft) will be much maligned, on this site especially, because Jackie Bradley Jr. was selected by the Red Sox with the very next pick. The pick did seem like a bit of a reach at the time (Keith Law had Greene pegged as a second or third round prospect at #57 overall on his list, while Baseball America had Greene ranked at #75) but it fit the Phillies modus operandi. Greene had one of the draft’s loudest tools and the Phillies like loud tools. They spent their second rounder in 2011 on another of the draft’s only plus-plus tools when they selected Roman Quinn and his 80-grade legs. While it seems that the Greene pick is going to bust, it’s not as if the Phillies missed out on a slew of big-time Major Leaguers. Other than Bradley, Kyle Crick and Trevor Story, there really isn’t a whole lot of talent that was scooped up after Greene was selected at #39. The Rays had 5 of the first 42 picks in the draft, most of those were right around where the Phillies elected, and none of them look like big-league regulars right now. After a historic first round, there wasn’t really anything left to pick. So while Larry Greene certainly doesn’t look so great, the pick isn’t as ugly as it seems on the surface when you evaluate it in context to what was left to pick.
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