Greenwood has already earned Greeneville Manger Josh Bonifay's confidence even though he's only seen him a handful of times and is still getting to know him. He likes that he uses/mixes all of his pitches well, and according to Bonifay, '[His] velocity was higher than what I saw of him in the College World Series on TV." Bonifay went on to say of Greenwood, "I have all the confidence in the world to bring him back in a game once we're in a save situation and he's available."
Aaron Greenwood (Left) and Dean Deetz - July 2014
Photo by Jayne Hansen
When I sat down with Greenwood, I first asked him to tell me a little about his college and draft experiences. He said, "I went to Ole Miss. I went there for three years. I went to JuCo [junior college] first, Bossier Parish Community College, and thankfully I was able to get picked up by Ole Miss. The first two years we made it to the regionals and lost out, and then the last year made it to the College World Series so it was kind of a neat experience. Going through the college atmosphere and everything, I feel like it helped me grow up a little bit and mature faster. I'm grateful for that.
"My senior year in the super regionals right before we played Louisiana in Lafayette, I got a call from Justin Cryer of the Astros and he asked me if I wanted to play and I said, 'No doubt!' I really wanted to play professional baseball so I was excited abou that. I got drafted in the 28th [round]. He called me after that and said, 'Congratulations, you're an Astro.' It was an awesome experience and I'm just proud to be a part of the Astro family."
According to Greenwood, he throws a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball anywhere from 88 to 93 mph, and also has a change up, slider and curveball in his arsenal. His goal is to move up one step at a time, "I'm hoping to move up as quick as I can, but just make another step, get better, make my pitches get better and then move up to the next place."
The biggest adjustment to professional ball for Greenwood has been time management since the players bear more responsibility for their off-field work than they did in college. Greenwood said, "Most of the time you just get here really early and get your stuff done and then enjoy playing baseball every single day."
When asked who he's seen on the team so far that has a pitch he'd like to steal, he responded, "Agapito [Barrios] has a pretty nasty breaking ball, curveball." He is also spending a lot of time with 32nd round draft pick Robert Kahana as they give each other tips on their respective changeups and sliders, "We're back and forth helping each other out so it's kind of cool."
I also posed the question as to which of the hitters on his team he would least like to face. Greenwood replied, "I would say [Sean] McMullen, but in college we faced each other and I struck him out three times. [Laughs] I'm just kidding. Either McMullen has a good bat and then [Trent] Woodward strokes it pretty good. Average wise, the two of them have been the best, and [Ydarqui] Marte, of course."
If Greenwood couldn't play baseball, he told me, "I'd actually be in school right now, either going to nursing school or physical therapy school, one of the two." Something that most people might not know about him? "I was a valedictorian in high school."
One thing I did know about Greenwood is that he was teammates with John Gatlin, a recent free agent signing by the Astros about whom I know virtually nothing. I asked Greenwood about Gatlin. "Kind of weird thing. He actually signed in free agency as a pitcher, and he didn't pitch one inning for Ole Miss. He came out of JuCo [and] came to Ole Miss as a pitcher, [but] ended up playing in the field. So after the season was over, Cryer (the same guy that drafted me) went and watched him throw a bullpen and he was 92, 94. Saw something he liked so he picked him up. I love Gatlin. He's an awesome guy. Great character and I'm glad he's part of the Astros family too."
Greenwood also played with current Lancaster OF Tanner Mathis. Of Mathis, he said, "He's a spark plug. Everyone either hated or loved him. But if he was on your team, you definitely loved him. He gets the job done. He plays his heart out and he's a good guy."
Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to see Greenwood pitch while I was in Greeneville, but I did have the foresight to ask him what I would see when I did see him on the mound. He replied, "Good command, four pitches I can throw anywhere I want and real good changeup." In response to the same question, Bonifay told me simply, "He's a competitor. He competes really hard."
Thank you for your time, Aaron, and best of luck as the season continues.