On a Sunny afternoon, recent Notre Dame alum, Hunter Greene stood near second base on a baseball field at a park in Inglewood, sharing his knowledge with a group of children from the L.A. Rockstars travel baseball team.
Hunter has developed into a national phenomenon since his days playing for the Rockstars and the Urban Youth Academy. He will continue to impress after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2017 MLB Draft. It had been over a week since the draft and Hunter was with the Rockstars, showing them proper ways to field ground balls and encouraging them along the way.
The 17-year-old signed a $7.23 million contract with the Reds on Friday, July 9, the highest bonus since the new draft system was implemented in 2012. Being drafted by Cincinnati “worked out perfectly” according to Hunter, who has the opportunity to play as a pitcher and as a shortstop for the club.
“I get to keep my bat, so I’m pitching, I get to hit in the national league,” Hunter said. “They’re letting me play short stop for a little bit, but mainly focusing on pitching.”
Hunter’s journey to the draft showed his resiliency, intellect and killer baseball skills.
To match his 102 mph pitches is a well-rounded life off the field; Hunter prioritizes community outreach efforts. He also learned how to play the violin in elementary school and learned the Korean language in middle school. By learning Korean, Hunter hoped to be a competitive candidate for Notre Dame High School.
“Hunter applied to Harvard-Westlake Middle School program … he was in the fifth or sixth grade. When he wasn’t accepted, he then decided he wanted to apply to Notre Dame,” Russell said. “We put him in a middle school that offered a foreign language.”
At Notre Dame, Hunter garnered national attention by his freshman year and committed to UCLA.
“Obviously, it’s a great academic school. [In] baseball, they just won the college World Series in 2013 when I committed, so it was perfect,” Hunter said. “The family there was great.”
By the time Hunter was a sophomore, his father, Russell, knew he could go pro. By then, Hunter was pitching at 95 mph and could hit the ball 400 feet. However, his parents wanted him to pursue a college education first. Once he was projected to be the top draft pick, Hunter’s parents considered the 2017 draft as a valid opportunity.
“It was at the end of the summer and he was throwing about 98, 99 [mph],” Russell said. “He had just hit 40 balls out of Petco Stadium in San Diego and he hit 20 balls out of Wrigley field and actually three of those balls were on the back of Waveland Ave.”
With the media attention came popularity among youth and Hunter readily prepared himself to be a role model for his new fans by doing community service efforts. One of his projects was implementing a sock drive for the homeless.
“A lot of homeless people don’t have socks and I did it in December,” Hunter said. “It worked out really well, I think we got 2200 pairs of socks, it was ridiculous.”
Before being drafted, Hunter had a stellar season with the Notre Dame Knights who finished the season with a 23-9 record and a 15-3 Mission League record. The Knights earned more league wins than the Harvard-Westlake Wolverines.
Hunter finished the season with 43 strikeouts, 28 RBIs, and six home runs.
Both Hunter and Russell recalled the Knights’ 2-1 win against the Wolverines as a highlight of Hunter’s senior season.
“They were the nastiest group of fans,” Russell said. “They called him a ‘Harvard reject,’ they said he was overrated. These were remarks that were being yelled out for 81 pitches.”
Hunter maintained composure to throw seven strikeouts, only allowing three hits amid the harsh ridicule.
“It was very competitive, just having a lot of hecklers and a lot of people after me and going out there and competing and winning the game,” Hunter said. “I blew them a kiss which was really cool.”