Former USC shortstop Grant Green, pictured here at last July's All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim alongside former Oakland A's great Rickey Henderson, is hitting .291 this season in Double-A.
Grant Green was USC's last top baseball prospect.
Frequently mentioned just behind phenom Stephen Strasburg in the spring of 2009 as the potential No. 2 overall pick in that June's draft, Green ended up as the 13th selection by the Oakland Athletics after a solid-but-unspectacular junior season that saw him hit .374. In nearly two years with the organization since signing that August, Green has impressed, steadily moving up through the minors and showcasing his plus tools in major-league camp earlier this year.
His offensive numbers have stalled a tad bit this season, and his defense is best described as average at the shortstop position, but Green is still widely considered the A's top prospect. In a weekly USC Report feature, we take a look at Green's collegiate career, his pro resume thus far and what's still to come from the 23-year-old shortstop -- with a specialized, focused look at the role the MLB draft in the process, it being draft week and all:
Green could have signed for a hefty amount of money out of Anaheim Canyon High in 2006, when he was drafted in the 14th round by the San Diego Padres, but he chose to attend school at USC and commit to three years of college.
His advisor at the time? Scott Boras.
Right away, Green was a top hitter for the Trojans, starting every game at shortstop and earning a number of freshman All-American honors with his .316 batting average and 10 triples, which set a school record. His sophomore season was even stronger, as he hit .390 with nine homers and 46 RBI. Green also memorably finished off the year with 29 straight games of error-free defense at shortstop.
During the following summer, Green lit up the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League and was awarded top pro prospect honors for the entire league, leading to that hype as the possible second overall selection in the 2009 draft behind Strasburg. But he received very little protection in the Trojans' lineup that next season and struggled to consistently show the power he had flashed the previous year, finishing with only four homers and 32 RBI.
Come draft time, Green was no longer in the discussion for the No. 2 selection but was still firmly a possibility in the top half of the draft, potentially going even as high as No. 5 by the Baltimore Orioles. The A's chose him 13th, just about where most prognosticators predicted he would go off the board.
Green agreed to a deal with a $2.75 million signing bonus minutes before the deadline and had short stints in High-A and the Arizona Fall League that year before coming back in 2010 to post a terrific .318 batting average with 20 homers and 87 RBI for the High-A Stockton Ports. He went back to Arizona last fall, spent part of spring training this year with the big club and has spent the 2011 season in Texas with the Double-A Midland RockHounds.
He's hitting .291 with two homers and 26 RBI, his walk numbers up some but his extra-base hit numbers are considerably down. In a positive development, his fielding percentage at shortstop has improved substantially to .949, up nearly 30 percentage points from the .920 number he posted in 2010. That'll help him stay at the position in the long term.
Green can flat-out hit, and that ability will almost assuredly get him to the big leagues, barring something unexpected. Each year since his freshman year of college, he's recorded a hitting streak of at least 10 games. Each year since his freshman year, he's hit at least .300 -- and he still very much has the chance to do that this year.
A likely trajectory at this point would be a promotion to Triple-A (in Sacramento, Calif.) in August and a few weeks trying out the pitching there before another spring training with the big-league team next year, a little more seasoning in Sacramento and a midseason call-up in 2012.
Oakland's offense is among the weakest in the majors, and that too could play a role in his arrival.