According to the MLB transaction page, the Braves added minor league depth today when they signed former White Sox and Diamondback farm hand Justin Greene to a minor league contract. Greene was drafted by the Pale Hose in the 20th round of the 2008 draft and was the fastest base runner in their system following the 2008 season. The 28 year old, 6 foot tall, 180 pound right handed hitting outfielder spent five years in Chicago’s minor league system spending parts of 2010, 2011 and 2012 at AAA. In 2013 the White Sox traded him to Arizona for financial considerations and he was assigned to Mobile (AA) where he won the Southern League Batting title with a .308/.377/.413/.790 slash including 19 doubles, 9 triples and 1 homer. He led the BayBears with 75 runs scored, and stole 30 bases but was caught 31 times . He made a splash in the Southern League All-Star Game and was named MVP. He also earned a spot on the league’s postseason all-star team last year. He started this season slowly (.174/.245/.239/.484 in 102 PA) and the Baybears released him yesterday. Greene’s spent time in all three outfield positions but spent most of his time in center.
Greene attended Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina and played on the same teams as Matt Wieters and Justin Smoak. While Wieters and Smoak were chased by a long list of colleges no one came after Greene. Instead he attended Francis Marion (an NCAA Division 2 school) and completed a four year degree playing three and a half years of ball. According to the Winston Salem Journal his coach wasn’t impressed when he first met Greene.
“When I first got there, my college coach told me he didn’t think I was good enough to play for him,” Greene said. “He redshirted me and told me that some time in college, I’d be able to contribute. I started half my freshman year and after that I never left the field. So I guess I proved to him enough.”
While this is initially appears to be minor league depth Greene has shown flashes of the ability to become a major league center fielder. He’s batted leadoff, second and seventh in his career but his speed and lack of power mean that to succeed he’ll be best used at the top of the lineup. Adding an experienced player having a down year helps strengthen the system without sacrificing existing assets. Let’s hope he blossoms quickly. To make room for Greene with Mississippi, the Braves reassigned outfielder Dan Carroll to High-A Lynchburg.