After Kris Bryant’s grievance against the Chicago Cubs, everyone around here should be well aware of the concept of service time manipulation. But as a refresher, that would be the practice of nefariously holding down a top prospect just long enough to secure an additional year of team control. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement attempted to address this issue by awarding a full year of service to the top two players in Rookie of the Year voting, regardless of when they were called up. But so far, that wasn’t enough to convince one team, the Pirates, to do the right thing by their top prospect on the bubble of the big league roster (Oneil Cruz has been sent to Triple-A with questionable motives).
The Reds, however, have been convinced. Their No. 1 prospect, right-hander Hunter Greene, is breaking camp with the big league team and will make his MLB debut Sunday, April 10 against the Braves.
Welcome to The Show, Hunter Greene!
The Reds' 2017 first-round pick and current No. 1 prospect is scheduled to start and make his major league debut Sunday, April 10 in Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/6yllTK9lZw
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) March 30, 2022
Greene, 22, is the Reds top prospect and the No. 22 prospect in MLB. He’s a big righty with an 80-grade fastball (we’re talking triple-digits as a starter) with an above average slider, cutter, and changeup. He’s a stud and he’s going to be a problem for the Cubs, without a doubt.
Is he going to be enough to change the Reds fortune this year? Almost certainly not. Their rotation, alone, saw the exits of Wade Miley (Cubs waiver claim) and Sonny Gray (Twins trade), among about a half-dozen position players. But Greene is a big deal and he joins the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year, Jonathan India, as part of the next Reds nucleus.
He also potentially represents a measurably positive impact of the new CBA rule, which was looking to be completely ineffective after the Oneil Cruz demotion. This doesn’t change the calculus entirely, of course (he’s just one player and nobody is a lock for ROY voting). But it is a variable pointing in the other direction.
In case you’re already thinking about it, though: No. I don’t think the Cubs are going to change course on Brennen Davis, who is going to start the year out at Triple-A Iowa, not Chicago. I do believe we’ll see him with the big league Cubs this season, but I’m guessing it won’t be until after he demonstrates consistent, improved contact ability at Triple-A Iowa. Unlike some other former top prospects, the Cubs are more justified in keeping Davis down for now.