(Photo: Getty Images)
Reds first round draftee Hunter Greene carries with him a 102 mile-an-hour fastball and the expectations that come with being the number two overall pick.
He also carries with him a greater responsibility - one that he seems willing to accept - but one that's inordinately heavy for someone who's not yet old enough to vote.
“This is exactly the kind of kid we desperately need," one major league official told Sports Illustrated, which Hunter Greene became the first high school baseball player since Bryce Harper to grace the cover of. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has specifically targeted Greene as product of baseball's youth academy, hoping that Greene can compel more kids from urban areas to follow his path.
Hunter Greene has been called a potential "face of baseball," which ignores both that the fact that the sport no longer lends itself to transcendent national stars, and the reality that Hunter Greene will spend the next few years playing in remote minor league outposts as far off the mainstream sports grid as possible.
He'll spend the next few years honing his craft, refining his pitching repertoire while hopefully giving his bosses a clearer idea of how he'll best succeed as a big leaguer. He'll deal with the ups and downs that come with those first few years of adulthood, when you're grown-up, but not really. He'll handle the highs and lows that come with any ballplayer's initial foray into the pros. He'll succeed. He'll fail. He'll cope with the scrutiny that comes both with having his profile and being anointed as key fixture of an organizations's future.
All of that is enough to deal with, as is. Hunter Greene will have enough to grapple with in the coming years that it'd best suit him - and the Reds - if instead of saving baseball, he could first perfect the art of throwing one.
There's a lot of upside to Hunter Greene, both on the field and off. He could be a cornerstone to whatever success the Reds achieve in the next decade, and a player of his potential and charisma would be the marketing department's dream. The sport as a whole is dying for more African-American kids to gravitate toward the sport, something that Hunter Greene has publicly said he'd like to help with - which is easier to do if Hunter Greene lives up to the hype.
But that's down the road. Now, Hunter Greene is a 17 year-old child star whose immediate future should be limited to making his way professionally, while continuing to learn who he is personally. Those things are tough and adventurous enough. Let's let him do those things before we ask more of him.