CINCINNATI - When it came down to the wire, the Reds came up with the cash.
The Reds agreed to pay a record $7.23 million bonus to sign second overall draft pick Hunter Greene, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis.
"I was pretty stressed there today," Reds General Manager Dick Williams said during a conference call. "You never know until you dot the i's and cross all the t's. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say it came down to the final seconds instead of minutes."
The Reds have not confirmed any contract details.
WATCH Greene pitch and hit a grand slam:
The 17-year-old California prep star with the 102 mph fastball, a slugger's swing and shortstop skills could have opted to attend UCLA, where he had committed. But if he did that, he wouldn't have been eligible for the draft again for three years. Or he could have gone to a junior college and re-entered the draft after just one season.
But with the 5 p.m. EDT signing deadline only a few ticks away, Greene took the money and the Reds avoided what would have been a huge embarrassment.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 7, 2017
As part of the deal, the Reds agreed to pay for four years' tuition at UCLA, according to LA Times reporter Eric Sondheimer, who covered Greene's high school exploits.
Hunter Greene will be receiving $7.23 million signing bonus from Reds, his father, Russell, confirmed. Plus 4 years of college at UCLA.
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) July 7, 2017
According to Greene's father, the Sports Illustrated cover boy was "on top of the world" after the signing, Sondheimer reported.
“We were getting our hair cut 30 minutes to the deadline. The last two or three minutes, he was on the couch,” Russell Greene said.
Williams had touted Greene as a can't-miss prospect and couldn't believe his luck after the Twins passed on Greene with the first pick.
"I spent the last couple of months worrying that we weren't picking high enough to get him," Williams said after picking Greene. "I'm really thrilled that we able to get him at No. 2."
If the Reds had failed to sign Greene, they would have received the No. 3 pick next year as compensation. But fans would have raised a ruckus. As it turned out, they managed to avoid a tax that teams get for overpaying their draft picks.
“If it didn’t work out, we were at peace with the consequences,” Williams said. “That being said, our strong preference was to get this young man signed, because we think he is a generational talent and we really think he’s going to have a positive impact on our team. … We think he’s got impeccable character and pretty impressive on-field ability. He’s the kind of guy we want to sign and build around.”
The Reds plan to develop Greene as a pitcher, his other skills notwithstanding, and Greene is fine with that, his father said.
Most experts agree that Greene's baseball skills are off the charts, "The reports I read are like no other reports I've seen in my limited time in baseball. Making some historic comparisons - that's not my job," Williams said.
Instead, Williams marveled at Greene's intangibles following the draft.
"What I saw in Hunter is a belief in himself," Williams said. "This may sound a little corny on a call like this, but his awareness of his place in the world. I was stuck by the maturity you all have seen. He's understands that being able to play baseball at this level is a gift. It's not something to be taken for granted. I was incredibly impressed by how he's leveraged that gift to share happiness with other people.
"He's going to be a tremendous baseball player, and he's going to be a tremendous person."
Greene has already been to Cincinnati and passed his physical, according to reds.com. He will either report to Rookie-level Billings, Montana, or the Arizona League Reds in Goodyear, Arizona.
Greene's signing was the good Reds news of the day. Here was the bad:
LHP Brandon Finnegan today had surgery to repair the torn right labrum which he suffered away from the field. pic.twitter.com/YnuDISwUqR
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 7, 2017
Also before Friday’s series opener at Arizona, the Reds recalled outfielder Jesse Winker from Louisville and optioned right-hander Sal Romano to the Triple-A club.