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Mental Toughness is Key for Newly Acquired Nick Green

After trading Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, the Yankees traded Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers for three promising pitching prospects, including Nick Green, a 2014 7th round draft pick out of Indian Hills Community College, who begins his Yankees’ career with short-season Staten Island.

A native of Fountain, Colorado, Green came from a military upbringing with his mom and dad serving a combined 33 years in the armed forces. Green learned the importance of discipline and routine at an early age and applied those principles when he takes the mound.

“My dad was in the military for 25 years and my mom for about eight years,” Green said. “I grew up disciplined and ready for whatever the world throws at me. My brother is a corrections officer, and he is moving up each day. The biggest thing I learned was mental toughness. If you fail at something, there is always something to learn from that failure.”

Following four seasons at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, Green participated in the Under Armour Preseason Tournament, and impressed Yankees scouts enough to draft him as a 35th round pick in the 2013 draft. Although impressed by their interest, Green decided to forgo the opportunity to turn pro and improve his draft stock with an additional year of development.

“The Under Armour Tournament was an excellent experience for me. It was cool to see all the other guys compared to when I played in high school. It was fun for me,” Green says. “When I was drafted by the Yankees, I knew I was not mentally ready to compete at the professional level. I believed I was better than the 35th round, and I worked hard to move up and went to college and competed.”

Green attended Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa and went 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA in nine appearances, including three complete games in each of the three games he started. The highlight of Green’s collegiate season came in his final regular season start on May 4 when he no-hit Marshalltown Community College and clinched the top seed in the Region 11 tournament.

“I learned that baseball is a mental game. As a kid, coaches always tell you that it is more mental than physical, but I never realized that until I made it to college. The no-hitter was unbelievable. Our team was fantastic that season. My teammate Joel Booker was just drafted by the White Sox this year, and he was a stud in the outfield and helped us that game.”

With a year of college under his belt, the Texas Rangers selected Green in the 7th round of the 2014 draft, and he continued his strong pitching in his first foray in professional baseball, going 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA between the starting rotation and the bullpen for the Arizona League Rangers as a 19-year-old. The early success eventually led to regression during a season and a half with the Spokane Indians in the Northwest. Green struggled with command and only struck out 2.5 batters per nine innings while pitching to a 7.11 ERA in nine starts in 2015.

“Failure is just something that I needed to work on. The season taught me that I needed to be more mentally tough and do the things you could to better yourself. I think I needed that season to help me get to where I am today,” Green said.

Green began adjusting in his second season in Spokane, posting a career-high 11.5 strikeout rate per nine innings and caught the attention of the Yankees’ organization, acquiring him from the Rangers with Dillon Tate and Erik Swanson in the Beltran trade on August 1.

“Paul Kruger with the Texas Rangers called me and said he was really happy with the way I was performing, and then he said I got traded to the Yankees and after that the Yankees contacted me, and I flew straight from Spokane, Washington to Williamsport, Pennsylvania where Staten Island was playing.”

Green took the mound on August 3 and had a strong performance in his Staten Island debut, allowing four hits, two runs (one earned) in five innings against the Crosscutters. “He had a good fastball and a good breaking ball. His changeup was working for him, and I can see why the Yankees got him. He was pretty impressive,” Staten Island manager Dave Bialas said.

Green’s mound repertoire consists of a fastball that sits between 93 to 95 miles per hour with sinking action, a developing curveball, and a changeup. In addition to generating groundballs, his fastball is becoming an effective strikeout pitch, with an average walk rate. Though Green does not possess the ceiling of higher profile pitching prospects such as Tate or Justus Sheffield, he may develop into an effective arm either as a starter or in relief.

“He’s got a powerful arm, and he’s got a powerful curveball. The demeanor and the character that we have seen so far from him are very impressive. He was coming into a good opportunity with the Yankees where he can move through the ranks in a pretty fast and the things we have seen so far from him are pretty bright,” Staten Island pitching coach Travis Phelps said.

During Green’s first week in Staten Island, fellow starter Austin DeCarr quickly bonded with him, and the two became fast friends on the club’s recent road trip. “I was the first guy he kind of met. I know what he’s going through coming into a new environment. I am just happy to have a locker near him and help him out with anything he needs,” DeCarr said.

With the help of his teammates and a change of scenery, Green feels at home in Staten Island and looks forward to contributing to them this season. “I feel confident. I enjoyed my time in the Texas Rangers organization, and I am excited to start my career as a Yankee and meet all of these new guys here in Staten Island and keep moving forward,” Green said.

 



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