His hitting line might not jump off the page yet, but Grant Green is making strides in his first April at the Triple-A level.
With a line of .226/.242/.419 in his first seven games headed into Friday, Green has gotten off to a slow start. But two of his seven hits have been home runs and he's second on team in RBIs with eight. Only Michael Taylor has more with 11, good for second in the Pacific Coast League.
"He's handled every situation I've thrown at him so far," River Cats manager Darren Bush said.
"I've moved him around in the batting order. We just need to have him prepared for anything that comes up. He's played left field and did a really good job out there too."
Green made his debut in Triple-A last September, and he hit .296/.333/.370 in seven playoff games for the River Cats. He was promoted just two months after switching from shortstop to the outfield. His athleticism serves him well in the outfield, but he still has a long way to go to be considered a major league-caliber defensively.
Despite having already made a brief stint with Sacramento, he still found himself dealing with some early-season anxiety during his first batch of games in 2012.
"I don't want to say I was in awe of the Triple-A experience. But I was kind of rattled a little bit, to say the least," Green said.
"I wasn't hitting like I wanted to. The last couple games in Tucson felt a lot better."
Green's only went 2-for-13 in the series against the T-Padres, with both his coming in the same game. One was a grand slam, the other was a two-run single.
The former first-round pick in 2009 has all the makings of a major league player, with good athleticism, a quick bat and solid approach at the plate. He turned heads in 2010 with High-A Stockton by hitting 20 home runs with a .318/.363/.520 line, but wasn't able to replicate those power numbers last year with Midland. There, his 750 OPS was 133 points lower than the previous year with Stockton and he only hit nine homers.
It's possible Green was asked to move to the outfield in order to add bulk to his frame that would result in more power, something that would hinder his defense at shortstop.
"We're just working on having a quality at-bats. His power is his power. If he hits the ball hard in the air, it's going to go out of the park," Bush said.
Bush indicated that the neither he or the club's hitting instructors have worked with Green to improve his power specifically, but it's something that has been on the 24-year-old's mind.
"It's always something people have said will come as I start to fill out. I'm still skinny as hell," Green said.
"But it's something I've always wanted to add to my game. It's something they really want to see as well. It's never going to be [Yoenis] Cespedes-type numbers. But if I can get 15 to 20, I'm happy with that and I know the organization will be happy with that too."
The 190-pounder said he said he's hoping to add another 15 to 20 pounds of muscle to his lanky frame. He said he's as strong as he's ever been now, while eating healthier than he has in the past in order to "feel stronger."
While Green's best power season came with 20 home runs, another infielder-turned-outfielder put up similar numbers in the minor leagues. National League MVP Ryan Braun made the switch from third base to the outfield – the two have similar builds and athleticism. Braun followed up a 22 home run-season in 2006 in the minors with a 10-homer season in 2007.
Green has a long way to go as a hitter before he could ever be mentioned in the same breath as an MVP, but Braun's ride up big league ladder could provide the blueprint for the A's prospect.
It's unlikely Green will jump up to the majors at any point before September without any injuries to A's outfielders. The club hopes he can flourish both offensively and defensively without the possibility of the major leagues weighing him down. But a good year in 2012 vault Green into the big league conversation next spring, especially if his power numbers improve.