FutureBacks: How long have you coached Matt?
Coach Holland: All four years he's been here [University of Louisiana at Monroe].
FutureBacks: How far has he come in his time with you?
Coach Holland: With his maturity he's just grown tremendously, and really started to understand the mental aspect to the game. When I went to sign him out of high school there were 28 or 30 ball clubs there to see him and he didn't do well. I turned and looked at my pitching coach and I said, 'Good for us bad for Major League Baseball.' He had the stuff, it just took a while for him to put it all together. And then he got hit in the side of head by a line drive his freshman year, and he had to red shirt his freshman year. It really set him back almost a year and a half.
The thing that a lot people don't realize is that this kid has a fresh arm. He threw 105 innings this year, he went 10-2 in 18 starts. But that's the first time he's thrown that much over the course of a season. He really hasn't thrown that much, I'd compare it to a shortstop converting to pitcher, the Diamondbacks are getting a guy with fresh arm.
FutureBacks: What do you feel is Matt's biggest strength?
Coach Holland: His presence on the mound. You're talking about a kid who is 6'5" 200lbs with a 92-94mph fastball and an 83mph slider, and the thing is his change up is his best pitch. He doesn't throw it as often, and that was the pitch he threw when he got hit, but it's his best pitch now.
FutureBacks: Does that still get to him?
Coach Holland: No, he doesn't have any after effects anymore with the change, if you'd asked me a year and a half I would have said yeah, last year he probably was a little off with that, but now, he's 100% with the change up.
FutureBacks: Is there one specific area where you feel Matt has really improved in his time at UL-Monroe?
Coach Holland: You just don't know when the light switch is going to turn on with 18 ,19, 20 year old kids. You hope they turn it on when they are in college, because that's your job, but sometimes it doesn't happen until they get to minor league ball. Last year we had a game where a guy got hurt, and I just turned to him and said, 'Green, he's hurt, you have to go in.' He didn't have time to think about what was going to happen, and it was in the middle of the conference tourney last year. He went 4.2 innings and had ten strikeouts in the conference tourney, he dominated, and he got the win. He was throwing 97mph in the conference tourney, but by that time the hay was in the barn with the scouts. He had a really high price tag last year, and basically priced himself out of the draft, so he went undrafted last year.
FutureBacks: Obviously the comparisons will, fairly or unfairly, be made between Matt and Ben Sheets, are they similar pitchers?
Coach Holland: Of course. Everybody is going to compare everybody here to Ben and to Chuck Finley.
FutureBacks: And Finley worked with Matt this year, right?
Coach Holland: Yeah, he really worked with him from a mental standpoint for pitching at the next level. It wasn't really that he prepared him during ballgames or for our next game, it was about pitching at the next level. They would talk in bullpen, just conversations how to get people out at the next level, Matt would ask Chuck questions, they'd go back and forth, and they did that throughout the season.
No one's going to be Ben. But they are similar, both their fastballs are about the same, at least when Ben was in college, but Ben has more of 12-6 curve, Green's is more of a slider, a slurve action. I'll tell you this, Green's change is a lot better than Ben's was that time. Talk about a high ceiling prospect, Green is just now filling out his body, he's still got room to grow, and everything is coming together for him at the same time.
FutureBacks: Almost nobody I've talked to saw him going in the second round. I talked to some people who said he was a sure fire first rounder, others who said he wouldn't go until the fourth or fifth round, why do you think there was so much disagreement?
Coach Holland: Age, bottom line, he might have been oldest player taken in draft, I haven't really looked at everybody, but I got to believe he was one of the top two or three oldest, and a lot of clubs use age against you as far as signing bonuses.
FutureBacks: But now that he's signed his age could actually help him, right?
Coach Holland: I really think his age is going to help him now. If he's 19 or 20 they could just let him sit and learn at Yakima, but since he's 23 they are going to have to move him up the ladder, and I think he's ready for it, but that's just my opinion.
FutureBacks: How seamless do you think the transition will be for Matt from college ball to pro ball?
Coach Holland: The last two summers he's been in the Jayhawk league, and he dominated those two summers, and really emerged in the conference tourney there. He was both a starter and reliever in the summer league, so I just think that since he's done it all, and been away from home he's ready for what's next.
FutureBacks: What kind of kid is Matt?
Coach Holland: Great kid. Just a great kid. The thing I'm most proud of about Matt Green is that he's only 20 hours away from his degree.
FutureBacks: Do you know if he plans on coming back to finish school?
Coach Holland: Yes, the D'Backs are paying for his schooling to finish his degree, and I think that's important, because I can tell you that Matt Green is going to be successful in life playing ball or working with his business degree, he'll be successful at both.
FutureBacks: Do you think eventually Matt is going to be getting you and your family tickets to watch him at the BOB?
Coach Holland: I'll tell you, my 11 year old son, Bradley, we go back to Arizona to see family every year at the end of July or early in August, and his grandfather will take him three or four times a week to watch the Diamondbacks when they are in town. When Matt's name came across the computer my son said, 'Does that mean we have free ticket to the Diamondbacks games?' I think we will soon.