Name: Nick Greenwood
DOB: September 28, 1987
A 14th-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Rhode Island University, Greenwood had an impressive season. After winning a team-best seven games and notching 74 strikeouts in college, the left-hander brought his game to short-season Eugene.
Used primarily as a starter until the end of the year, Greenwood went 4-1 with a scintillating 1.71 ERA across 17 games, including nine starts. In 63.1 innings, Greenwood boasted a 1.07 WHIP – the second best mark in the circuit. His ERA was 0.67 points better than the closest competitor, among those who qualified.
Greenwood also led the Northwest League in left on-base percentage, touting a 76.5 percent mark. Even when hitters did reach base, they rarely scored.
The Connecticut native also saved five games in six opportunities, holding the opposition to a .180 average against with runners in scoring position. His .224 overall average against in Northwest League play was also the top mark in the league.
Greenwood was sent up to Fort Wayne for the stretch run and the drive towards a Midwest League title. Across seven games spanning 10 innings, all in relief, in the regular season and playoffs, the southpaw posted a 2.70 ERA with 11 strikeouts.
"He got some big outs for us in the playoffs," former Fort Wayne and current Eugene pitching coach Tom Bradley said. "He's very tough on left-handed hitters. He throws strikes and the ball moves all over the place. He really got some big outs for us down a stretch during the playoffs."
A strong starter who sets the tone early, Greenwood establishes fastball command with first-pitch strikes to setup the rest of the at-bat.
Armed with a funky delivery that sends arms and legs flailing, the ball is hidden behind his back until release. While his fastball was in the mid-80s, touching 85-87 mph, the hitter's ability to pick it up is hindered and it appears out of nowhere – making it seem like a low-90s offering.
His velocity was down a tad from his college days where he was hitting 90-91 mph but the late life on his fastball gives him the movement over velocity victory. His ability to work the heater down in the zone with precision is nearly unparalleled in the Padres minors. Working all four corners and not afraid to work inside, Greenwood gets hitters to pound the ball into the ground with regularity – again because of the downward movement on his two-seamer.
"He is a kid that has a lot of movement on his ball," former Eugene and current Fort Wayne pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. "He has a lot of sink on his fastball. I was working with him during a side session where we just throw fastball/changeup. I asked him to throw four-seam fastballs and he said he didn't have one – he throws all sinkers. That is a good thing.
"He throws a lot of sinkers and has a great changeup. He works quickly, has a good tempo – he misses a lot of the sweet parts of the bat because of his good sinker. Once again, that will take a kid a long way when you have that kind of movement on your sinker. He just needs to have confidence throwing it and stay within himself."
Changing speeds is what Greenwood does best. He has a solid changeup that disrupts a hitters' timing. It movement down and away is extremely effective against right-handed hitters. This pitch is another ground ball machine. His ability to throw it in any count was pivotal to his success.
The southpaw could use some tinkering with his curveball. He does not a tight break, as it tends to be inconsistent. There are times, however, when it is a 12-to-6 style hammer that leaves hitters shaking their heads.
"His fastball moves a lot," Bradley said. "He throws three pitches over the plate. He's got a little bit of a funky delivery. Left-handers did not see the ball at all.
"His curveball is pretty good. I think it's very effective. It's kind of a slower pitch for him and it's got good break to it. He makes left-hand hitters look very bad on that pitch. He's also got a good changeup that goes down and away to right-handed hitters. So, he's got three pitches. He's a funky left-hander."
One person had a different view of his curveball's effectiveness and thought it needed more work:
"Once he perfects his curveball to go along with the fastball and changeup, he's going to be a tremendous guy out of the bullpen," Eugene manager Greg Riddoch said. "Left-hander out of the bullpen."
Greenwood is also a quick worker he likes to take the ball and throw. He rarely throws a pitch without conviction. As mentioned previously, he does have a funky delivery to throw off a hitters timing. It appears that he is showing hitters his backside through his motion before the arm appears out of nowhere to deliver the ball. And the angle of release is three-quarters, making it even more difficult to pick up. Then the hitter still has to recognize the pitch.
Strong mentally, he is the type of player that many will undervalue. Yet, he will prove many people wrong along the way. He has a burning desire to be the best and works hard to ensure he attains his goals.
"When I turn on the television, I see quite a few "crafty lefties" on the major league level," former Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "He has the instincts and knowledge of the game that we like, and he performed well in Eugene. It's hard to describe the instinctive value that some pitchers are able to read on batters swings, which enable them to be successful. He has a knack for how to disrupt timing and balance and changes speeds from an angle that hitters don't see all the time. There was very little to clean up, possibly a little more depth on his breaking ball."
Greenwood has a decent move to first but can be abused by runners stealing third base. He could stand to keep runners closer by offering up varying looks.
An excellent athlete as a former shortstop, Greenwood is an adept fielder that can save runs with his heads up feel for the game and its situations.
"He's got good work ethic," Riddoch said. "He fields his position like a shortstop, and he played shortstop all the way to high school left-handed. But that tells you what his makeup is and what his physicalness is to be left-handed and play short because he's so damn quick."
Conclusion: If Greenwood can consistently work in the high-80s/low-90s, he has the rest of the tools to be extremely successful. There are not many pitchers, however, that have prolonged success without a fastball that reaches 90-91. His penchant for ground balls will consistently allow him to work deep into games – a definitive plus. This is a kid that profiles well as a major leaguer. Whether he is a longtime contributor or not could depend on his velocity.
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