Ryder Green | OF
Green, 18, grew up in Knoxville and attended three high schools in four years. He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Hardin Valley Academy, his junior year at Knoxville Christian School, and his senior year at Karns High School. Green made a name for himself with his batting practice displays on the summer showcase circuit, and as a senior this spring he hit .462 with double-digit home runs while playing with wood bats.
Going into the 2018 draft MLB.com and Keith Law (subs. req’d) both ranked Green as the 82nd best prospect in the draft class while Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him 98th. The Yankees selected him with their third round pick, the 97th overall selection, and signed him to an overslot $997,500 bonus. Slot money for the 97th pick was $576,400. Green had leverage because he was committed to Vanderbilt, a top school and baseball program.
The Yankees sent Green to the rookie Gulf Coast League for his pro debut and he hit .203/.316/.392 (101 wRC+) with three home runs and three stolen bases, plus a healthy walk rate (11.6%). Green also posted astronomical strikeout (36.8%) and swing-and-miss (37.8%) rates. He struck out at least once in 19 of his 26 games this summer. Green participated in Instructional League after the season.
Green is a slugger first and a hitter second. He’s not the biggest dude (6-foot-0 and 200 lbs.) but he has excellent bat speed and raw strength, and was one of the top power hitting prospects in the 2018 draft. Statcast recorded premium exit velocity numbers when Green participated in showcase events at pro parks. The bat speed and raw pop project out to 30+ home runs down the line. The power is legit.
With that power comes a lot of swing-and-misses. Green knows the strike zone but he does sell out for power, especially in hitter’s counts, and that produces less contact that you’d like. It’s a real question as to whether Green will ever make enough contact to tap into that huge power potential in games.
An 18-year-old kid with these swing-and-miss and contact issues is a very safe bet to wind up in Extended Spring Training to begin next season. Green will stay at the home base in Tampa until the short season leagues being their seasons in late June. An assignment to Rookie Pulaski or Short Season Staten Island is a safe bet. I would be really surprised if Green sees anything more than a late-season cameo with Low-A Charleston next year.
I like Green’s potential but the swing-and-miss issues are an big obstacle. The Yankees successfully turned a similar prospect in an MVP caliber producer with Aaron Judge, though that had as much to do with Judge’s hitting acumen and ability to make adjustments as it did the team’s development folks. Can Green make similar adjustments? Probably not because few can, but the Yankees deemed it worth a third round pick and close to a million bucks to find out. I am very intrigued by Green’s ability but he has a lot of work to do to become a big leaguer.