It’s hard enough to succeed as a professional baseball player, but imagine if it’s not even your favorite/best sport. That’s what faced St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitching prospect Nick Greenwood, who grew up loving soccer and baseball before finally having to choose one sport.
Greenwood was a soccer star for Xavier High School in Middletown, Connecticut. He finished his career as the second leading scorer in school history, behind only Houston Astros’ legendary first baseman, Jeff Bagwell, a fellow alum.
Greenwood played American Legion baseball during his “down time” and also for Xavier. As Greenwood progressed through high school it became obvious that his best opportunity lay with baseball. His talent was obvious, as he went 16-2 for his career and earned a scholarship to the University of Rhode Island.
During his three years at Rhode Island, Greenwood increasingly improved his production, finishing his career with 15 wins. In 2009 the San Diego Padres made him their 14th round selection in the MLB Draft. He pitched well as a starter, but in 2010 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a trade for outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and was converted to the bullpen full-time.
Greenwood pitched in Triple-A all of this past season with middling results. For his professional career he is 15-12 in 163 games, with a 3.63 ERA. More information on his statistics is available at
Now that Greenwood has reached the highest level of the minors, he has little left to prove. This past off-season I caught up with the lefty and found out a little more about his time in baseball. If you want to keep up with him and his quest for the majors, make sure to also give him a follow on Twitter.
Nick Greenwood Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?: My favorite team has been the New York Yankees since I was little. My family members are huge Yankee fans and it rubbed off on me.
My favorite player when I was little was Don Mattingly because I liked the way he went about his business and his style of play.
What made you decide to give up your favorite/best sport (soccer) in favor of baseball?: It was a tough decision, but I realized I could go further in baseball. I knew it was where my future would be. In college I signed for baseball but I still had plans to play soccer even after I had committed to URI.
Can you run through what your draft experience was like?: I was surrounded by family and friends for the two days the draft took place. I wasn't expecting a call on the first day, but knew I had a good chance of going on the second day. Until you get that phone call, it is still just a dream. It was pretty nerve wracking as you watch the rounds go by, but then once you do get the call, there is a huge feeling of relief and excitement. It’s funny; I got a call from the Cardinals in the 8th round letting me know they were getting ready to take me and it just didn't happen. San Diego called in the 14th round.
Please describe your feelings upon learning you were part of the Ryan Ludwick trade that brought you to the St. Louis organization?: I was sleeping on the bus going to Great Lakes when my trainer woke me up and told me I had a phone call. I answered and it ended up being the farm director for San Diego. He let me know I had been part of a big league deal and thanked me for everything, letting me know it was a hard choice, but good for everyone involved.
It felt good to be wanted by an organization like St. Louis, knowing they had traded a big leaguer for me. Everyone on the bus didn't really believe me when I told them, but started to realize the news was true when I started to call my agent and my family. It didn't seem real until we got to Great Lakes and I sat down and saw my name on the TV. The toughest part was leaving all the friends I had made, knowing I might not see them again, but it's fun to play against them.
What pitches do you throw, and which one is your strongest and which one needs the most work?: I throw a fastball, curveball, and change up. My best pitch would be my sinker, and the one that needs the most work would be my curveball. Right now I'm working on dropping down side arm a little to lefties, knowing that is where my future is going to be.
How difficult was it to transition into a full time reliever?: It was definitely different, starting my whole life, but the transition was easier than I thought it would be. Now, instead of pacing myself, I can let it all go 1 or 2 innings at a time.
What is the toughest part of minor league life?: One really difficult aspect is finding work in the off season. Also, the really long bus rides can be grueling.
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