Greene quietly slugs way to Frisco

Third baseman Jonathan Greene earned a recent promotion to Double-A Frisco after he began August by batting .373 with six homers in 59 at-bats in Bakersfield. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 23-year-old's progression both offensively and defensively.

Over the past couple of seasons, third baseman Jonathan Greene has quietly established himself as one of the organization's best power bats.

Although his 6-foot-0, 200-pound frame doesn't exactly scream ‘big-time power hitter', Greene has the ability to crank out more than his share of tape-measure home runs.

Playing in the Single-A Midwest League in 2008, Greene batted just .239, but he belted 25 doubles and 21 home runs.

The slugger has taken another step forward in 2009. Making the jump to High-A Bakersfield, Greene hit .273 with 27 doubles and 20 round-trippers in 109 games.

Greene has battled with consistency ever since joining the Rangers' organization as an eighth-round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. The Western Carolina University product has had his share of phenomenal months during the last three seasons, but he's also had plenty of below-average stretches.

The 23-year-old says that trend has continued—to some extent—in '09.

"My season started out good, and then I hit a slump for a little while," Greene said. "I started thinking a little too much at the plate. And then I sort of just came to relax and let it come to me and I didn't try to do too much."

Greene batted just .196 in the month of May during that slump. He hit .307 [77-for-251] with 16 doubles and 15 home runs in July and August.

The hot streak earned Greene a promotion to Double-A Frisco, where he belted a three-run homer in his first game on Wednesday night.

The North Carolina native still hasn't been incredibly consistent this season, but he is making strides, as his .273 batting average in Bakersfield showed. Greene says he's trying not to let any struggles get to his head.

"I've done decent this year," he said. "It's just mainly when I start struggling, I worry about the fastball beating me. That's when I want to rush to go get the ball. I'm just trying to slow the game down and take it one pitch at a time."

Even when things aren't going well for Greene, he has still been able to find his way on base. Though he only walked 43 times in 128 games last season, Greene's on-base percentage was 110 points higher than his batting average.

That's mostly because he was plunked an unbelievable 36 times.

Greene figures to get hit less often as he climbs the organizational ladder and faces pitchers with more control, but he'll likely always be a guy that gets hit his fair share.

But he isn't exactly sure why.

"I think I've been hit 17 times this year so far," said Greene, who has actually been hit 22 times. "I don't know why. I'm not even that close to the plate or nothing. I guess they're just trying to beat me inside."

And when they throw inside, Greene isn't budging.

"Especially with two strikes, I'm definitely not moving," he explained. "Just try to find a way to get on base."

Greene's development this season isn't just limited to his work at the plate.

Typically regarded as a good hitter without a position in the past, Greene is beginning to find a home at third base.

During his three professional seasons, he has played games at catcher, first base, third base, and left field. Although a shortage of outfielders in Bakersfield forced Greene to play some left field earlier this season, he is settling in at the hot corner.

More of a left fielder in college and a catcher with Spokane in 2007, Greene made the move to third base in Clinton last summer. The transition was a bit rough, as he committed 31 errors [.911 fielding percentage] and didn't show much range.

"Last year it was more just chest it up, put a body in front of it, and pick it up and throw it to first," he said.

"But this year I've really slowed the game down a lot and I feel a lot more comfortable over there. Just a lot of reps. The more games you play, the better you're going to get at anything."

The progress is clearly evident in his play. Greene's plus arm allows him to simply knock down balls and recover in time more often than not, but he is also showing solid range to both his glove and hand sides.

For the remainder of the 2009 season, Greene should have an everyday spot in the Frisco RoughRiders' lineup while splitting time at third with John Whittleman.

Whether Greene can maintain a strong batting average in Double-A remains to be seen, but one thing is certain—he's sure to enjoy the short left-field porch at Frisco's Dr Pepper Ballpark.

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