Of all the names Jim Salisbury and others threw out there leading up to the 2011 MLB Draft, Larry Greene was not among them, but that didn't stop the Phillies from popping the burly high school outfielder from Georgia with the 39th overall pick.
Ranked 75th overall by Baseball America, Greene is a 6'2", 235-lb. manchild whose best tool is -- surprise! -- his raw power. BA's writeup said that he dominated "modest" competition in south Georgia but really struggled in showcase events against better velocity. As with any power hitter not named Albert Pujols, his swing is a bit long, but he's apparently put on prodigious displays of power in batting practice, which makes sense for a guy with his size and his uppercut swing plane. He's drawn comparisons to Ryan Howard for his raw power, and BA dropped a Russell Branyan comp on him as well.
The downside, as you might divine from the two comps above, is that Greene's one tool is basically his only tool: he's not much of an athlete, and many scouts think he'll eventually have to move from left field to first base. And while it sounds like he could be a scary power threat, it remains to be seen if his pure hitting ability will allow him to use that raw power in game situations as he starts to face more quality pitching. "[A]ggressive free-swinger" is not one of my favorite phrases to read in a scouting report, and Jason Churchill and Keith Law's report (ESPN Insider) mentions that power potential but calls Greene "incredibly high-risk".
Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of the pick -- guys who project at the bottom of the defensive spectrum as 18-year olds have to hit a ton to provide value, so there isn't much wiggle room here. That said, I'm in no position to completely rail against it, since the Phillies scouts have seen Greene a few more times than I have, and clearly this is a guy they really like. They obviously figured he wouldn't be around at 66 (their next pick), and they must certainly have liked him better than Andrew Chafin, Andrew Susac, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and some of the other rumored targets who were still on the board. Like any draft, how the Phils do with their remaining 50 picks will outweigh any one selection, so for those of you crazy enough to care about this, tune in tomorrow as the lightning round begins, and we'll judge the draft as a whole when all is said and done.
Below: Greene taking some batting cage cuts during the 2010 Aflac All-American practice session.