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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Willie Greene, Quick Wrists - 849

Willie Greene put up power and average in high school, enough to get him taken by the Pirates in the first round. But his coaches didn't know where the 6-foot, 155 pound 17-year-old got it from, according to The Pittsburgh Press.

"I guess it's quick wrists," Greene told The Press after his selection, "I've been playing since I was little, 11 or 12. It took a lot of work. I just went out, took batting practice and fielded balls in my spare time."

The Pirates were looking for to make a difference, as their top pick from the previous year, Austin Manahan fizzled. Greene ended up making a difference for the Pirates, just not in the way they had envisioned.

On Aug. 16, 1990, the Pirates were closing in on their first of three consecutive division crowns. but they needed a pitcher. That pitcher was the Expos' Zane Smith. To get him, they only had to send Greene, Scott Ruskin and a player to be named: another fellow CMC setter, Moises Alou.

Smith went on to go 6-2 with a 1.30 ERA, helping the Pirates to the division crown. Greene went on to play parts of nine seasons in the majors, first getting there Sept. 1, 1992 with the Reds. Greene went 3 for 4 in his first major league game, becoming one of two Reds since 1958 to get three hits in a major league debut. Jay Bruce in 2008 was the other.

While Smith made a difference, the success of Greene and moreso Alou, the trade has been seen by some as one of the Pirates' worst.

Parts of eight of his seasons in the majors were with the Reds. His best year was 1997, when he hit .253, but hit 26 home runs. Traded to Baltimore in 1998, for Jeffrey Hammonds, Greene played 1999 with Toronto and 2000, his final year, with the Cubs.
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 81/880 - 9.2%
Made the Majors: 47 - 58%
Never Made the Majors: 34 - 42%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 17
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 27

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