|2003||San Diego Padres||23||SD||.215||20||65||8||14||4||1||2||6||0||1||4||19||1||0||0||3||.400||.271||671|
|Minor League Totals:||.290||191||768||100||223||46||3||22||105||7||7||53||146||20||0||8||18||.444||.271||793|
Khalil Greene started his meteoric rise through the Padres system after being picked in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft out of Clemson. He played in just 66 games between Lake Elsinore and Eugene before being moved up to Mobile to start the 2003 season.
In 2003, Greene split his time between Mobile and Portland and actually had a better showing in his Triple-A stint. That paved the way for a September call up.
During his time in Mobile, Greene helped Jon Knott see some better pitches at the plate. Teams chose to pitch around Greene in order to get to Knott and Greene's numbers were down slightly. Oddly enough they could pitch around Knott as the protection behind him was non-existent.
"Greene was hitting third and Knott was hitting fourth and we never had anyone emerge in the five spot that would force pitchers to throw Jon Knott strikes."
"We've had some players the last few years that just did not perform up to expectations offensively and that has kept Mobile from being a playoff team the last couple of years," says one Padres scout. "We have had a number of players who have come through and the performance level hasn't been what the organization had hoped for. For whatever reason the last two years we have had players who have struggled in situations.
"In other words, look at their batting average with runners in scoring position it's been considerably lower than it has been with the bases empty. Sometimes that is where you can look at a guys stats and it doesn't tell the whole story. I believe games are decided often times in one or two or three particular instances late in the game where you get a guy go up there with men on base."
That was true of Greene as well in Double-A. He drove in just 20 runs in 59 games and scored 20. No one was knocking in runs. Mobile finished last in the Southern League in team batting average at .238, 32 points behind league-leader Birmingham.
"Greene played better in Triple-A than he did here actually," says Nichols. "If you look at the numbers, he struggled. He struggled making the jump from Single-A to Double-A for about six weeks and then he turned it on for a couple of weeks and moved to Triple-A and was fabulous there.
Greene was hitting just .131 through 61 at bats before he turned in on, batting .370, and earned his promotion to Portland. Greene cut down on his strikeouts in Portland and drove in 47 runs in 76 games. He also raised his batting average by 13 points over his Double-A numbers.
"He hit better in Triple-A than he did in Double-A, which is sort of unusual."
Some would argue that Double-A is a better league because a lot of the good young talent will go straight to the majors from Double-A and some of the older veterans get stuck at Triple-A.
"In 2002 we had six jump straight to the big leagues," Nichols confirmed.
Greene took the long road…sorta. Over two seasons, Greene played in 191 games of Minor League ball. Greene spent more time playing college ball.
Greene was topped the list of well-rounded players that came out of the 2002 draft and many tabbed him to be the first player to reach the Majors. He won the BA College Player of the Year and Golden Spikes awards, carrying Clemson to the College World Series.
"Once he cracks the Padres, he is going to stay," Bill Schonely said. "I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He is a great kid and I loved watching him play. He is a keeper."
That came in 2003. In his 65 big league at-bats, in 20 games, Greene showed power with a couple of home runs, but he batted only .215 and struck out 19 times.
Greene also committed three errors in 81 total chances. Many projected Greene as a second baseman, but he has proven to be more than adequate at shortstop. His knowledge of the game make up for any shortcoming he has in terms of range, and his first step in recognition is the key to it.
Instead of going to the Arizona Fall League, Greene opted for some much needed rest. He played in 155 games and had 613 at bats during the 2003 season.
"You wouldn't think he has tremendous power, but he does," General Manager Kevin Towers said of the 5-10, 190 pound Greene.
The Padres will slot him in the eighth position in the lineup with little expectations. The Padres would like him to work on his plate discipline and working the count a little more, but the main thing the team wants to see out of Greene is solid defense. As one scout told us, "Whatever he brings to the table from an offensive standpoint is a bonus.
"By putting him at the end of the order and knowing the kind of player he is, he will put more pressure on himself than we will. That is what makes him such a great kid."
"Starting at shortstop and batting eighth for the San Diego Padres, rookie Khalil Greene."
Denis Savage can be reached at email@example.com
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