The Bo Greenwell File
Born: Oct. 15, 1988 in Fort Myers, FL
Acquired: Sixth-round draft pick in 2007 from Fort Myers Riverdale (FL) HS
Strengths: Son of former big-league star Mike Greenwell has athleticism, work ethic and passion for baseball. Had excellent walk-strikeout ratio (23-17) in '08.
Weaknesses: Struggled against lefty pitching (.219), needs to drive ball better.
2009 Projection: Extended spring training, on way to center field at Mahoning Valley.
2008 & MINOR-LEAGUE CAREER
Reprinted here from the September 2008 issue of Indians Ink Magazine is a feature interview with Bo Greenwell:
Bo Knows Baseball
Outfield Prospect Greenwell Grew Up In The Game
By CHUCK MURR
Bo Greenwell has plenty of athletic ability and no shortage of confidence in it.
He also realizes that it will take a lot more than that for him to follow in his father's footsteps and become a major-league outfielder.
"You have to put in a lot of work to be a really good player," said the 19-year-old, whose dad Mike was a .303 career hitter with decent pop (275 doubles, 130 homers) and speed (80 stolen bases over 1,269 games with the Boston Red Sox before retiring at age 32 following the 1996 season.
Bo was the Indians' sixth-round draft choice in 2007, after an outstanding multiple-sport career at Riverdale High School in Fort Myers, FL. He passed for just under 2,000 yards his final two years as the football team's star quarterback and hit .396 over four years on the baseball team. That overall number was helped by his senior season, when he hit .510 with three homers, 31 RBI and 22 stolen bases.
"Baseball has always come natural to me," said Greenwell, who had planned to attend the University of Miami on a baseball scholarship, but chose to accept the Indians' $123,000 signing bonus and begin his pro career right away at age 18.
"I've always enjoyed playing baseball because I can have fun at it. I've always worked hard to improve, but I didn't have to work just to get to play. I didn't have to struggle to stay down on the ball, it just kind of came naturally to me.
"I just loved playing quarterback, too. I wanted to be the guy that everybody turned to when the game was on the line. When you have the two-minute drill and the band is playing, the cheerleaders cheering and it's all on the line – that's when I had the most fun. I was like an ice man. I just loved that part of the game. There's not much else that can be as fun and exciting."
Thus far in his young pro baseball career, Greenwell has experienced a lot less fun and had to work a lot more than he did as a natural athlete on the Florida prep scene. But he hasn't let his early struggles get him down.
"It's my first rodeo right here," Greenwell said with a bright laugh during his first spring training camp. He said it with an air of youthful cockiness, but not in a smug, condescending way.
"Dad told me what it was like back in his day, but it has changed so much. When he played, spring training was like boot camp. They got you in shape. These days, you've got to come to camp ready to go because you are trying to earn a spot, trying to make an impression right away. Spring training has changed in that aspect. I just came ready to play."
Despite being one of the youngest players in camp, Greenwell carried himself with confidence and always seemed to have a smile on his face.
"This is fun," he said. "Some guys come into the clubhouse saying 'Boy, it's hot out there today,' and I just tell them that this is nothing but fun for me. Hot is when its 95 in the shade and you're wearing football equipment. Fun is getting your work in on a baseball field and learning something new."
He still has a lot to learn, judging from his underwhelming overall numbers in his first season, which is why he's still in Winter Haven for a second summer with the Gulf Coast League Indians.
In 37 games a year ago in the GCL, he batted only .215 (31-for-144) with 12 runs and eight RBI. He drew 16 walks, struck out 24 times and despite his excellent speed was successful on only five of nine stolen-base attempts.
The Indians insist there is much, much more to Greenwell's game than his numbers.
"We are excited about Bo's progress," said Ross Atkins' the team's director of player development. "We love his drive and fearlessness that he probably developed from his father and football playing days.
"He's made strides with his plate discipline and defensive play and we think he will develop power. With his youth, pedigree and strength we think he has a solid career ahead of him."
An example of Greenwell learning some plate discipline came earlier this year, his second with the GCL Indians. In his first at-bat, Greenwell let his enthusiasm for wanting to make something happen immediately take over. With a 1-2 count, he swung wildly at an outside slider that he couldn't have reached with a telephone pole. The next time up, he fouled off a couple of low strikes and eventually took that outside breaking pitch for ball four.
That's exactly what the Indians want to see Greenwell do more often – without taking away his aggressiveness. With better pitch selection, they figure he could develop into a good leadoff hitter. He has the willingness to be a team leader and the speed to do damage once he gets on base.
Greenwell made his professional debut as a pinch-hitter last July 6 and got his first hit, a single, the next day. A couple of weeks later, he went on an eight-game hitting streak, batting .355 (11-for-31) with three doubles, four RBI, one steal and five runs.
Through his ups and downs at the plate, Greenwell has consistently displayed good instincts in the outfield, though he's relatively new to playing out there. He has played all three outfield spots, primarily in center, and scouts believe that despite surgery on his left knee a couple of years ago, Greenwell still has enough speed and instincts to develop into a player similar to big-leaguers Mark Kotsay or Shannon Stewart.
"I played shortstop when I was little, but moved to first base," Greenwell said. "My high school coach believed in an athletic first baseman, so I played there. But the outfield is more of an athlete's position. First basemen don't run and have a great vertical jump. It's the spot where you put the big guy who hits all the home runs. I'm not that kind of player.
"When I moved out to the outfield for the first time during my senior year in high school, it brought another dimension to the game for me. I love to run and it was fun to learn something new."
Greenwell said he's learned a lot about baseball from his dad, but that his mother has perhaps had a bigger impact on his life.
"My dad was gone eight months out of the year when he was playing, so who's left?" he said. "Mom.
"And she did a great job, I think, in helping me with so many things in life. She's had a very big influence. We are a very athletic family and we all strive for excellence in anything we do. I was a straight-A student in high school and both parents contributed to that as well as other things in my life."
Greenwell obviously grew up as a Red Sox fan, but said his allegiance changed when he was drafted by the Indians. It made for an interesting time in the household last fall when Cleveland met Boston in the American League Championship Series.
"My dad and I watched the playoffs last year and we were teasing each other back and forth every game, big time," Greenwell said. "Actually, when the Indians jumped out to that 3-1 lead in the series, my dad said, 'You better put them out right now because if they win that next game they are going to win it all.' And sure enough, that's what happened.
"I did like the Red Sox growing up, but did I want to get drafted by them? Not necessarily.
"I definitely was hoping to go to an American League team because I'm more familiar with the league. And coming to the Indians has been a big break for me, I think. This organization has been everything that a player could ask for. The take care of players from the day you sign."