DUNEDIN, Fla. — The first few days of professional baseball have been hectic for Conner Greene.
Since being drafted in the seventh round of last Friday’s Major League Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, Greene has graduated from Santa Monica High School, signed his first professional contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and has already been in Florida for rookie camp.
For a kid who was just on the mound at Samohi weeks ago, these are major developments in his young life.
“Everything is so exciting,” Greene said. “I’ve just been here trying to get better.”
If things go according to plan, he’ll be on the mound of a pro ball park within weeks, a prospect the right-hander said he couldn’t imagine just months ago.
Greene has been the subject of pre-draft scrutiny all season, but his rise to being a top prospect is somewhat of a recent occurrence.
His assistant coach at Samohi, Tony Todd, worked his connections and got Greene a tryout for the Area Codes team, an elite showcase for local talent.
Despite not being officially invited, Greene was given a shot to show what he could do. He wasn’t picked for the team, but he opened the eyes of scouts from a number of big league clubs that wanted to see more of him.
He shined during his senior season at Samohi, posting a 1.68 earned run average with a 7-1 record. What really stood out was his impressive 76 strikeouts in just 50 innings.
Whatever he did at the Area Codes tryout and the regular season worked, ultimately earning him the 205th pick in he draft.
“I really could not have done it without Tony,” Greene said. “He always put in a good name for me.”
This isn’t the first time Todd, a former Samohi standout and college baseball player, has opened doors for a fellow Viking.
During the past few years, he’s been instrumental in helping pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Alonzo Gonzalez draw the eyes of scouts.
Skaggs was taken in the first round by the Los Angeles Angels in 2009 and last year Gonzalez was selected in the 18th round, also by Toronto.
Talent is what got them to the pros, but Todd’s deep ties in the baseball community didn’t hurt.
Todd even has a little parting advice for Greene.
“I just want the kid to do well,” Todd said. “But I tell him to trust no one. These other guys out there are trying to get to the same place you’re trying to get.”
For Greene, his current goal is making the Blue Jays’ single-A ball club and let things fall into place from there. But getting to this point has been interesting.
With graduation and the draft both last Friday, Greene said it was a nerve-racking experience.
With the school on lockdown because of a mass deadly shooting that took place nearby that day, Greene and the rest of the senior class were held in one of the school’s gyms waiting to see if the graduation would even take place.
During the wait Greene was monitoring the draft on his phone, eager to see where he would end up. At roughly 4 in the afternoon, he saw that he was going to be a Blue Jay, but he was trying to be low key and kept it to himself.
Apparently he wasn’t the only one following the draft.
A fellow classmate was the one that spilled the beans.
“I was super excited,” Greene said. “I got an ovation from the whole class.”