The A’s top pick – and 13th overall selection – in the 2009 amateur draft even made a second consecutive appearance in the Futures Game this season and took home MVP honors.
Coming into this season, the biggest knock on Grant Green as a prospect was his defense at shortstop. Now that Green has moved off the position and into an outfield spot that could be a major need for the A's at the big-level as soon as next spring, it’s only a matter of time before he makes an impact in Oakland.
“They said this was the best way for me to get there, so I said let’s go for it,” Green said.
“My only concern was that it was only going to be an experimental deal and a few months later they’re going to move me back to the infield. I told them I didn’t want that. If this is the direction they want to go in, I want them to go full boar with it. After hearing it from them and hearing what their take was on it, that settled my nerves on it.”
Green got his feet wet in the outfield for Double-A Midland and actually saw an uptick in his offensive numbers down the stretch. After a slow start in the Texas League, he finished with a line of .291/.343/.408.
The final results were nowhere near what he wanted in his second full professional season, but Green says the defensive change has lifted a burden off his shoulders and helped him at the plate.
“[Defense is] fine when you’re doing well,” Green said. “I went through a little stretch where I was struggling and taking it out there on defense. Now I don’t really have anything to worry about other than catching a fly ball. You can go out there and think about the pitch process that you ended up getting a hit or walk on. It’s definitely different, but I’m getting there.”
Green will continue his development in the Arizona Fall League, where he’ll be managed by Sacramento hitting coach Todd Steverson. Instead of worrying about shortstop, Green will get more work in the cage this fall.
“The power wasn’t there that I wanted this year,” Green said.
“I had a couple balls blown down by the [Texas League] wind, but everyone does down there. Trick [Steverson] wants me to get the head [of the bat] out there a little bit more with more top hand and turning on balls. We’ve been working on that in batting practice. He wants a combination of the inside-out stroke that I have, but if I get an inside pitch on 2-0 then drive it deep to left.”
In just one short week, Steverson has already had a positive impact on Green’s hitting approach. In a PCL opening-round series victory over Reno, Green had eight hits in 14 at-bats, including a pair of doubles. He saved his best for last, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs in a decisive game five victory at Raley Field.
After being added to the River Cats playoff roster in time for the Reno series, the newcomer was unsure of his role as the team vied for a PCL championship.
“At first when I got there in Reno, [manager Darren Bush] said I was just going to be DH’ing against lefties only,” Green said.
“But when Jai [Miller] went up [to Oakland], they needed another outfielder. The last few games I’ve played right field, which is the first time I’ve done that in my career.”
Whether it’s in right field or center, Green says he still has some work to do in how he judges fly balls.
“My big concern is I still don’t feel I’m comfortable with my first step on routes,” he said.
“I feel like I’m seeing the ball pretty well, but I’m having more U-shaped routes than direct routes to the ball.
“I’m also trying to get out of the mindset of being an infielder on ground balls. I’m not going balls to the wall and kind of breaking down and fielding the ball. I had a couple errors in Midland from doing that. Seeing a runner round third and coming in as hard as I can, the ball would take a bad bounce that I couldn’t recover from.”
Green says he’s anxious to see how the off-season shakes out in Oakland and where he’ll figure into the organizational depth chart come next spring. All four of the A's starting outfielders/DHs are eligible for free agency.
“It will paint a picture on what they’re thinking, with who they bring back, bring in or let go,” he said. “I see myself probably starting [next season] in Sacramento and experiencing Triple-A. I’ll hone my skills for when I get that call-up to the big leagues.”