PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — On Thursday, Riley Greene arrived in Grand Rapids for the first time in his life.
The 18-year-old has never even been to Michigan other than Detroit, when he was drafted fifth overall by the Detroit Tigers in June.
While he isn’t familiar with the area, the fans of the West Michigan Whitecaps know his face.
It’s one of the most anticipated arrivals of any rookie in franchise history.
Greene was still in his senior season of high school baseball earlier this year.
He’s the first-ever player born after the millennium to join the Whitecaps. He was born on Sept. 28, 2000.
Being the top-pick in the Tigers organization of 2019 and a top-5 pick overall in the MLB draft, there are a lot of eyes on Greene.
For him, however, it doesn’t change how he plays the game.
“To be honest, I don’t think there’s any pressure,” Greene said. “I got drafted just like everybody else, started rookie ball like everyone else and now I’m working my way up.”
Playing in the Gulf Coast League for the Tigers West, Greene put up impressive numbers. The lefty hit an eye-popping .351 with a .442 on-base percentage. He also added three home runs and 15 RBIs in nine games.
Then in the New York-Pennsylvania League, Greene joined Connecticut. He dropped off a tad, hitting .295 with a single homer and seven RBIs in 24 games.
Whitecaps manager Lance Parrish said he was just as excited as anyone else to see what Greene can do.
“So far, I’ve only had a five-minute conversation with him,” Parrish said. “Obviously, he’s a centerfielder and a top of the order guy. He’s going to play a lot.”
Parrish did mention that the plan for Greene is to split time in centerfield with Parker Meadows, another newcomer to the Tigers organization.
When Greene isn’t in centerfield, he will be playing right field and vice versa for Meadows.
Greene doesn’t mind the change — he just wants the chance to play and help the team pick up wins.
He doesn’t look at it as competition for a spot with Meadows but rather another opportunity to get better.
“We are both trying to get wins for this team and play as a team,” Greene said. “A lot of people told me coming into this ‘You can’t make friends,’ but it’s not like that. You get on a team and try to enjoy it and get wins.”
After having a good start to his professional career in the Gulf Coast League, Greene does remember his first game as a pro.
It didn’t weigh on his mind in his first game as a Whitecap on Thursday night.
“I take it day-by-day, baseball is a weird sport,” Greene said. “You could go 4-for-4 one day and 0-for-4 the next day. You just have to have confidence every single day and play hard.”