Williamsport's Green patient at crowded third base

Zach Green of Williamsport is leading the New York-Penn League in extra-base hits.
Zach Green of Williamsport is leading the New York-Penn League in extra-base hits.
Posted: July 29, 2013

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - The view looking up at the Phillies' third-base depth chart could be a daunting one for Zach Green, the 19-year-old who mans that position with the Phillies' short-season Williamsport affiliate in the New York-Penn League.

In front of him, he'll find Cody Asche, the triple-A Lehigh Valley third baseman who could be in the big leagues in a few days if the Phillies decide to deal veteran Michael Young before Wednesday's trade deadline.

He'll also see Maikel Franco, the double-A Reading slugger who is considered the Phillies' best minor-league position player.

And then there's Mitch Walding, a 20-year-old third baseman taken in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, at low-A Lakewood.

Green, a third-round pick in last year's draft, has a mature answer to the organizational pecking order at third base.

"First off, I couldn't be happier for those guys," he said. "All those guys are great guys and I would hope if I was having as much success as them at that high of a level that someone would be happy for me, too.

"I hope they keep playing well, but you always have to have the confidence that you are going to make it. If it isn't at this position, that's fine, but my goal is to play every day at the major leagues and I really don't care what position I'm playing."

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Green has the prototypical corner-infielder body and he has shown off his power in his brief time with the organization.

He entered Friday's game with a league-leading 22 extra-base hits, including five home runs. He was, however, in the midst of his first minor slump as a professional player. He was batting just .241 in July after a white-hot start in June. He has handled that with a mature attitude as well.

"You have to understand the talent is better here," he said. "You're seeing nastier breaking stuff and faster fastballs. You have to bring your 'A' game every day and not worry about failing too much. You have college guys here who know how to locate off-speed pitches. I would say that's the biggest thing."

Nelson Prada, the first-year manager at Williamsport, said he was not concerned about Green's recent dip in average.

"He's not struggling," Prada said. "His average has gone down from .340 to .270 or whatever, but he's been swinging the bat well and hitting the ball hard. He's been hitting in some tough luck. The good thing about him is he always wants to play. Maybe he's a little tired because he has been playing every day, but he's a strong kid."

He's also a coachable one, according to Prada.

"The thing I've been very impressed by is his defense," Prada said. "We've been working with him a lot going back to extended spring training. Doug Mansolino [the Phillies' roving infield instructor] works with him a lot and he has made a lot of positive steps. The way he catches the ball now, he's more patient and not rushed."

Green, a shortstop at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, Calif., believes he has made tremendous strides, thanks to the extra work he did in extended spring training.

"Extended spring training really was extended, but I did need that, especially from the defensive side," Green said. "I'm glad I went through it."

Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @brookob.

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