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Tyler Greene still confident despite struggles

July 12, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

Tyler Greene is supremely confident. Hell, call it cocky.

He knows it. He’s not going to deny it. He understands that his numbers don’t necessarily dictate him being as confident as he is, but he also understands that to play baseball at a professional level you have to be so confident that it borderlines, or is, cockiness.

The Williamsport Crosscutters’ second baseman has struggled through a season in which his strikeout percentage is alarmingly high. But after going through another day of batting practice on Thursday at Bowman Field, the 19-year old from Florida is still in a positive mindset about a season that saw him start at Lakewood only to be sent back to Williamsport.

“There’s still a lot of season left. It’s only been 20-some games,” Greene said. “I feel like I’m turning it around and I feel pretty good. I’m just keeping a positive note. My swing is getting better as we go on.”

Greene’s philosophy has been simple this year, play hard, be confident and eventually everything will fall into place. He knows the numbers he’s put up over two leagues and 41 games this year aren’t anything spectacular, but he still feels good.

The most eye-popping number on Greene’s stat line is that he’s struck out 68 times in 142 at-bats. He’s struck out in more than 40 percent of his at-bats at both Lakewood and Williamsport.

But Greene isn’t a stat guy. He knows the number is high, but he’s not putting the stock into it that maybe those who follow the team would.

“I’ve been swinging at bad pitches and getting myself out, really,” he said. “I haven’t been swinging at strikes and they don’t really have to throw strikes to get me out, because when they do, I’m hitting them. So I’m not worried about that at all. You’re going to strike out. It’s baseball. You’re also going to get hits, so I’m not worried at all.”

The former 11th-round pick out of West Boca Raton (Fla.) High School made a valid point. When he puts the ball in play, he’s generally successful. His batting average on balls in play with Williamsport was at .343 before Thursday night’s game against Tri-City.

It’s a number that’s a little higher than the mean, which is generally believed to be somewhere between .290 and .310. But Greene is an interesting case study. He’s got tremendous raw power, and is more than capable of hitting the ball out of even the most spacious of ballparks like Bowman Field. And generally, when he makes contact, he barrels the ball.

Take Tuesday night’s series opener against the ValleyCats for instance. He struck out in his first and third at-bats of the night. But in his second at-bat he hit a solid single over the shortstop’s head to drive in Larry Greene Jr. with one of the two runs the Crosscutters scored.

When he talked about Tuesday’s game, his focus was placed more on the at-bat in which he was able to come through with a big hit, as opposed to his strikeout after an eight-pitch at-bat with two runners in scoring position in the second inning.

It’s all a part of Greene’s positive outlook. He plays the game hard. He works hard during batting practice and fielding drills. And he’s supremely confident that he can be the player he was when he hit .276 in 17 games in the Gulf Coast League a year ago, putting him on the radar as a young Phillies prospect with the likes Mitch Walding, Roman Quinn and Larry Greene Jr.

“I still am pretty confident about all the progress I’ve made since the GCL,” Greene said. “The numbers haven’t showed that, but I know that and I think other people do, too. It might not show, but I feel a lot better. I feel like I’m a lot better baseball player than I was when I first started in the GCL.”

Greene is making the necessary adjustments to his swing and to his approach at the plate all while also trying to learn a new position. He hadn’t played second base since being signed by the Phillies last summer.

When he went to Lakewood this spring, he was the BlueClaws’ starting shortstop and it wasn’t until he was reassigned to extended spring training that he was asked to try out second base. He’s part of a Williamsport infield that at times boasts three current or former shortstops in Greene, Quinn and Walding.

He’s made just four errors in 18 games as he’s learning the new position. He said the most difficult part of the transition has been in turning double plays and getting the feed from the shortstop or third base knowing a runner is bearing down on him, but not being able to see him sliding into the bag.

But it’s just another thing that Greene feels he has been doing well and will only get better with. It’s all a part of that supreme confidence. And it’s that confidence, he feels, that’s going to help him get back to Lakewood and continue to climb through the Phillies’ organization.

“If you ask anyone around, I’m probably one of the cockiest kids, and most confident kids on the team,” Greene said. “I don’t really worry about how I’m playing. I know if I’m not hitting well at the plate I can use my glove and save a run or make a play to help us win.

“You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low, whether you’re 4 for 4 with four home runs, or 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. I take that approach every day.’

 
 

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