When the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Tyler Greene with the 30th overall pick in the 2005 draft, they knew they were getting a polished player. After all, Greene was a top high-school prospect and was drafted in the second round in 2002 by the Atlanta Braves. Many scouts figured Greene would forgo college and take his skills to the professional ranks, but after deciding he could fine-tune his game at Georgia Tech, the pros simply had to wait a while.
Unfortunately for Greene, though, so too did the major leagues. He was called up by the Cardinals on April 30, 2009, at the age of 25. Looking back, perhaps Greene regrets his decision to say no to the pros, but then again, he’s still in the big leagues.
I got a chance to catch up with him today before the series’ opener against the Colorado Rockies. Greene was just recalled from Triple-A Memphis as the Cardinals put pitcher Kyle Lohse on the 15-day disabled list. Since his demotion, Greene was killing the ball in Memphis to the tune of a .378 batting average in 10 games with the minor-league affiliate.
“I was really starting to feel comfortable [up here],” Greene said. “It just feels nice to be back here to get a chance to show what I’m capable of.”
In his first at-bat, Greene singled and stole a base, getting off to a hot start. He didn’t cool down either, going 2-for-2 with two walks, reaching base in all four plate appearances.
The only problem was that the Cardinals bullpen had a debacle in the seventh inning, allowing nine runs to put the game out of reach. Manager Tony La Russa described the struggles as “very atypical, they’ve been good all year.”
For Greene, though, this had to be the kind of start he wanted.
“I learn a lot from Khalil, Ryno [Brendan Ryan], Skip [Schumaker]. All those guys really have helped me get to where I am right now.” Greene said.
Greene might have felt the pressure, but he sure didn’t act that way.
“Up here the game is quicker, the speed is faster. The pitchers have more movement,” Greene remarked when asked what the biggest difference was between the Major Leagues and Triple-A.
With some fine defensive plays and the only live bat not named Albert Pujols, Greene is well on his way to seeing his name in the starting lineup for several days, and perhaps weeks, to come.
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