February 20, 2018

Mets Have Young Stud in PJ Conlon

The Mets seem to have struck gold in a 2015 draft pick, that happened to be in the 13rd round. They selected PJ Conlon, a left-handed pitcher that hails from Belfast, Ireland. PJ is currently seeking to become the first Major League pitcher from come from Ireland in over 72 years!

After three successful years as a University of San Diego Torero, the New York Mets took their chances on him. He’d posted a 2.83 ERA in 294.1 innings, an absolutely astounding figure given the fact that they play in the loaded West Coast Conference. The Toreros got a good one, as he helped lead them to multiple conference championship tournaments. Conlon is fond of the time he spent there, citing an extremely close bond with head coach Rich Hill and the rest of the coaching staff. Upon his departure, he had already received multiple All-American honors and even had two great summers with the prestigious Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League.

Soon after being drafted, he received a low $100,000 signing bonus. In his first season, he was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones at the A- level. Just pitching 17 innings, he struck out 25 batters and allowed zero runs. This was enough to earn him a promotion in his second season, where he floated around with the Columbia Fireflies (A) and the St. Lucie Mets (A+). He was extremely successful and this is the season it became clear that Conlon was something special. In 78.1 innings with the Fireflies, he had allowed just 19 runs, striking out 61 and winning 8 of 12 starts. After being promoted again, the St. Lucie Mets saw him pitch 63.2 innings for a 1.41 ERA on a 0.96 WHIP.

In the off-season though, trade rumors began to arise. Mets fans seemed to be pleading the organization to keep the young stud, which they luckily did. The franchise seemed to doubt Conlon a little, considering draft reports cited him as being too small and weak. He only stands about 5’11”, and his fastball rarely tops the low 90s. Conlon was invited to the 2017 Spring Training, in a move that seemed kind of like a test for the crafty lefty. This gave the Mets a chance to judge his stuff even more, and they seemed to like it enough to keep him around. Last season was spent in AA, with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. His stats weren’t quite as phenomenal, but that can be accredited to the fact that he’s just two levels away from the Show. Conlon’s record was 8-9, with a 3.37 ERA in 136 innings, which was good enough to earn him an organization All-Star nod. Prior to the 2018 season beginning, he’s racked up four All-Star appearances throughout post-season and franchise votes. PJ has even been pitcher of the week three times, all of which go towards his case of an MLB promotion.

As 2018’s Spring Training begins, Conlon has secured another invite. So far, he’s just thrown live batting practice against the club. Mets manager Mickey Callaway has spoken highly of him, saying, “He was throwing the ball where he wanted to, pitching in off the plate, good changeup down and away, so I think he’s another piece of the puzzle that can help us sometime in the near future.” Star right-fielder Jay Bruce also spoke highly of Conlon, remarking that his changeup was “pretty good”. It seems that this next season he will float between AA and AAA, with the small possibility of an MLB call-up. The possibility of a call-up to the Major Leagues within the next two seasons is very high, though. It was just announced a day ago that Conlon will be converted into a relief pitcher, something that would make way for his debut at the highest level. The Mets currently have a strong enough rotation to not deem him necessary, thus the conversion being a way to find him time and growth in the Show. Currently, most prospect rankings have Conlon anywhere from 15-30th in the entire organization. That’s pretty good, nonetheless considering that he was a 13th round pick. For now, Mets fans can only wait and see what happens. They can be hopeful that he will eventually be called up but regardless, the young stud has a very bright future. If somehow a trade does go through, New York will certainly get some good assets for him. All in all, it seems as if this 24-year old kid will in fact break the long drought of Irish-born players in the MLB.

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