(Jeff Blake/Columbia Fireflies/MILB.com)
LHP P.J. Conlon
L/L, 5’11” 190 LB, 11/11/1993 (23), Low-A Columbia and Hi-A St. Lucie
|2016||22||-0.4||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A+||12||2||1.65||24||23||142.0||115||26||5||24||112||7.3||0.3||1.5||7.1|
|All Levels (2 Seasons)||12||3||1.47||41||23||159.0||123||26||5||26||137||7.0||0.3||1.5||7.8|
I don’t think it’s possible to choose a weirder pitcher be the most dominant in the Mets Minor Leagues in 2016 than Conlon, but here we are. P.J. Conlon, who had dominated Brooklyn as a reliever last year pitched absolutely ridiculous numbers this year as well in terms of dominance, and if you haven’t heard about his “stuff”, then it would baffle you how effective he has been in pro ball.
Born in Belfast, Ireland, Conlon’s family escaped the violence of Northern Ireland, and moved to California. It was there that he learned to pitch, and well enough that he pitched for the University of San Diego. In his three season career, Conlon pitched to an ERA of 2.84, spanning 54 games and 37 starts, which translated into 257 innings pitched. During that span, he collected 213 strikeouts and 70 walks as well. During this time, Conlon proved to be a complete workhorse in his time at San Diego.
Conlon was drafted in the 13th round in 2015, and signed to a minor league contract with a $110K signing bonus. He joined the Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones on June 26th and pitched in the bullpen to the span of 17 innings, and only gave up eight hits, two walks, and struck out 25 while not giving up a run.
This dominance warranted them to turn him into a starter last season, and he didn’t disappoint. Conlon pitched to a 1.65 ERA in 24 games, 23 starts across both full season A-ball levels. That doesn’t do it justice even… Conlon had just dominated both leagues to the effect that one game he pitched ten innings with 97 pitches and no-hit the opposition for the first seven before losing the game on an unearned run. In 2016 alone, Conlon pitched in 24 games (23 starts) and allowed a run or fewer in 17 of those games.
So now, here’s the question how is he so dominant? Does he have a plus fastball or breaking ball? Great stuff in general? Answer to these questions is actually “Not really”. One game that was covered by P&C’s over at Metsminors.net stated he only saw Conlon pitch in the 84 to 88 range and didn’t see any of his three off speed pitches as above-average caliber. At times, Conlon scrapes 90 but pitches in the 80’s mostly. Out of the bullpen, he can reach up to 92. In other words, he’s the anti-Szapucki.
As for his offspeed pitches, his curve and his slider are rather average pitches, and are good for dominating younger players. He can bury them in the dirt fairly well and fool younger hitters, but when he gets up to AA , he may have to develop them more to remain a starter.
His Changeup seems to be his best pitch, as some have described as either “plus” or “Major League Caliber”. It’s pretty nice, but this is one snapshot of it. It’s his go-to pitch to work with.
So if he doesn’t have plus stuff, then what is going on? Why is he so effective against the players in A-Ball despite no velocity or plus pitches? Well, look at this delivery, it has a bit of nice deception, he tucks the ball back and rears and fires using some decent mechanics and rotation. A lot of the A-ballers have issues seeing the ball when it’s coming out of his hand, so no matter what the stuff is, they are going to have a hard time seeing it. The mechanics are pretty clean, and his control is impeccable, posting a 1.5 BB/9 in this stellar year.
- As much as i’ve known players to hate when we prospect writers say this, velocity will continue to be an issue. Double-A is usually a litmus test for those with velocity that doesn’t sit in at least the low 90’s.
- He was an advanced pitcher beating up on much inferior competition. High-A’s success is very interesting, but he was at the average age of players there.
- His breakers aren’t very good, and with an already low-ceiling player, it’s hard to see him as a starter. Deception can only go so far, and it won’t be enough to fool hitters above Hi-A.
Sorry to be that guy with the disappointing report for those who didn’t know Conlon well, but it’s hard to see much out of him in a starting role. He’s just flat out dominated, but Double-A seems like the climax episode that we need to gear ourselves up for, especially for someone barely breaking 90, and doesn’t have a great pitch outside of his nice fadeaway. If he can develop those breakers a little better and gather a couple upticks in velocity, he can become a very interesting fifth starter. If not, he could become a nice reliever, or LOOGY, at worst.
- Astro’s Assessment of the 10-inning pitched game.
- P&C’s eyewitness article watching Conlon in St. Lucie
To see the other Binghamton Option, Tomas Nido, see the menu at the top with Prospects–> Team Prospects —> Binghamton
Stud Muffins Rumble Ponies –> Tomas Nido
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