Tanner Green will be the first to admit he doesn't have an overpowering heater. Of course, it would be nice, but his gifts are grittier than an electrifying fastball.
"I can't throw as hard as everyone else down there, so I had to develop more of a location-based pitching style," Green said. "I can't overpower many people."
Pinpoint control and an even-keeled attitude are why Green is a reliable member of the Victoria Generals bullpen this summer. The sidewinder has a team-high 13 appearances, all in relief, for the hottest team in the Texas Collegiate League.
"Tanner has confidence in what he's going to throw," Generals manager Chris Clemons said. "He throws a lot of strikes. His demeanor never changes. You never know if he's striking everyone out or giving up hits.
"He has a great demeanor to be a pitcher. He's very consistent. You know what you're going to get from Tanner Green, and that's why I love putting him out there."
Green has mostly been a late-inning specialist for Clemons. His two-seam fastball might reach the mid-80s, but it's his ability to mix in a change-up and slider, as well as his delivery that consistently fool hitters.
It's a pitching motion he picked up after watching a game on television when he was a 13- or 14-year-old. Green doesn't remember who was playing or whether it was a professional game - all he remembers is the sidearm delivery.
"It was an accident. I was messing around in the outfield," Green recalled. "I saw a guy throwing like that on TV. My coach was like, 'You should try to pitch like that.' I actually pitched that same day and threw like that. It worked out well."
Through 20 1/3 innings, Green has walked just two hitters and sports a tidy 2.21 ERA.
He has been consistent all year, but especially effective over the last five weeks. The last nine times Green has appeared for the Generals, the team has recorded a win.
It was around that June 12 loss to league-leading East Texas that Green, Trace Knoblauch and Patrick Duncan decided to grow mustaches for the summer. The three dub themselves the Mustache Mafia, much to their own amusement.
Knoblauch and Green said the mustaches are a fun way to pass the time during a summer season that can be a grind. Neither man is a mustache expert, but the Generals have played better baseball since the fad began, so nobody is shaving anytime soon.
When Green's high school coach, Adam Foster, heard about the mafia, he quipped, "He ain't gonna cut it until they lose. I can promise you that."
Interestingly enough, when Green played under Foster at Georgetown, players were not allowed to have facial or shaggy hair.
Foster, now the head coach, was an assistant under Danny Wallace when Green was there. Green said Foster, James Ellison and Allen Roberts are all men, who have helped him on a baseball journey that took him from Georgetown to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to a summer in the Crossroads.
"They taught me how to play the game right," Green said of the trio. "They straightened me out when I was in high school and still a kid. They always worked well with me. Any time I had trouble pitching, or anything, they would work me through it."
That is still the case now, but most of the conversations between Green and Foster are about life, family and things beyond baseball.
Foster said Green is the type of man he would like his son to emulate. He credited Green's father, Dee, for raising a man with manners who is willing to work for everything he has.
"He didn't fall far from the tree," Foster said. "His dad is a stand-up guy, who is a gentle and nice guy, willing to do anything for anyone. They have an outstanding father-son relationship. It's definitely one to envy."
Whether it's high school, college or the Texas Collegiate League, Green has been a firefighter out of the bullpen. When his team gets into a tight spot, his coaches can trust him.
This spring, Green had 22 appearances for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, primarily as a set-up man. He recorded a 4.30 ERA during his sophomore campaign, but consistently threw strikes, walking just four batters in 23 innings.
Ending up in Corpus Christi, playing collegiate baseball is a testament to his work ethic. After graduating from high school in 2010, Green didn't have any firm baseball offers.
"I didn't have anywhere to go," Green said. "I was either going to Angelina (College) or Temple (Junior College) maybe. (Islanders pitching coach Marty Smith) called me in late July and asked if I wanted to come walk-on. I said, 'Sure thing.' I went, made the cut in the fall and made the traveling team my freshman year."
Green has been a key cog in Islanders' wins each of the last two seasons. He's brought that approach north, much to the appreciation of his teammates.
"He's the guy when it's the ninth inning, in a close game, we see him warm up, and you know he's going to come in and throw strikes,' Knoblauch said. "They are not going to hit him hard. He has crazy movement. He makes them beat him.
"We know that when he's in, he's going to throw strikes, and we're going to be ready."
The nine-game win streak when Green pitches might be proof the Generals are certainly ready for the mustached right-hander to take the mound.
His 20th birthday will be on the first night of the TCL playoffs.
Whether Clemons calls him from the bullpen remains to be seen. One thing is certain, if Green does get the call - it might be a gift for him and a win for his team.