Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Michael Conforto's outfield play turning heads in Brooklyn

Being a first-round draft pick carries high expectations from the moment a player signs their name on a million-dollar contract. In just over a month, Michael Conforto, the New York Mets 2014 first-round draft pick from Oregon State University, has been all that was advertised and then some.

Playing in thirty-six games thus far with the Brooklyn Cyclones in the short-season New York Penn League, Conforto has been a magician at the plate, batting .321 with two home runs and 18 RBIs. His prowess with the bat comes as little surprise to baseball insiders, as his hitting was the main factor in his nomination as a finalist for the 2014 Golden Spikes Award, the honor given to the top player in college baseball.

Going into the draft however, there was much speculation about Conforto’s abilities as an outfielder, with some analysts going as far as calling his outfield play, “a mess,” and saying that his arm strength leaves much to be desired.

Michael Conforto - N. Diunte
“He has a poor throwing arm that runners can take extra bases on,” said Christopher Crawford of MLB Draft Insider. 

In the short time that he has been in Brooklyn, he has laid the foundation to quell those naysayers about his defensive capabilities. He has five outfield assists and has made quite a few acrobatic plays in left field as well.

“The reports also said he was only an adequate defender; the same with his arm. But in the reports I've been sending back to the Mets, I'm telling them he's anything but that," Cyclones Manager Tom Gamboa said to the Staten Island Advance. "He threw out a runner trying to score (Monday night at RCCC), and tonight he made a diving catch. That's about the seventh or eighth diving catch he's made."

Conforto is glad that his defense is getting attention, as it was overshadowed by his strong bat throughout his entire college career. He recognizes that it is an area of his game that is continuing to be developed as he starts his journey in professional baseball.

“That's something that's been said that may be my weakness,” Conforto said to metroBASEBALL magazine, “so it's pretty cool that its been highlighted here. I've had the opportunity to be out there in left field every day and showcase my ability, so that's been pretty cool for me and it's helped me grow in a place where I really need to grow.”


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