During the final installment of a two-part series, Dustin Mattison reviews the professional debuts…
School: University of Washington
Selected 2009 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Dustin Mattison (32): When drafted, Conley became one of the top power prospects in the system. The Cardinals may have been over-ambitious in their initial assignment but the former Washington Husky excelled once he made it to Batavia.
His power potential is definite. The 22-year-old hit 19 home runs this past spring in college after hitting eight with wood during the collegiate summer league schedule. In only 109 at bats for the Muckdogs, he collected eight long balls and 24 of his 42 hits went for extra bases. Scouts are not sold on his prowess in the field and he seems to be destined to stay in left field with limited range and a below-average arm.
Conley struck out close to 20% of the time, something he will have to work on as he moves up the ladder. He gets pull-conscious and pitchers will undoubtedly try to exploit this as he starts to face more experienced competition. Conley reminds me quite a bit of a right-handed version of Kyle Russell. The Cardinals were unable to come to an agreement with the 2008 fourth-rounder Russell as he was reportedly asking for a signing bonus of around seven figures. To get Conley into the organization reportedly cost only $100,000. Looks like a good value to me.
Message board community (46): Kyle Conley appears to be two different players when you compare his stint at Quad Cities (.542 OPS) and his time at Batavia (1.209 OPS). At Batavia, he showed a better average, more power, fewer strikeouts, and a better walk rate. His performance there resulted in him being chosen the league's 18th-best prospect by Baseball America (one of only two Cardinals ranked in their leagues). Whether his QC performance was due to him being over his head, a small sample size, or something else remains to be seen.
Conley had one strange quirk in his stats. He actually had a higher line drive rate at Quad Cities (23% - very good) than at Batavia (17% - near average). Unfortunately the LD rate at QC only resulted in a BABIP of .321 while his lower LD rate at Batavia netted him a BABIP of .420.
Conley was a college senior when drafted and a year older than most college draftees (this is surely what resulted in his initial assignment to full-season ball initially). As a result, Conley will be 23 years old shortly after the start of the 2010 season. This age issue may very well result in him getting pushed quickly and starting the 2010 season at Palm Beach where he will definitely be challenged to keep up his 2009 power numbers. - CariocaCardinal
Brian Walton (23): I give the Cardinals a lot of credit in their handling of Conley this past summer. Once it was clear that he wasn't ready for the Midwest League, they acted quickly in dropping him down to the New York-Penn League, where he still had time to flourish.
Despite Conley's age, his Batavia manager Mark DeJohn sees him as a green prospect, albeit one with great potential. "The last two years, we really haven't had a player with those kinds of abilities – a kid that can run and with power like that and a pretty good arm… He is a real intriguing guy because he has all these raw tools. It is a matter of him getting to play more and getting more experience," the manager explained.
I have to admit that the combination of that conversation and seeing Conley play made me a believer. A year of full-season ball should answer the questions once and for all as to whether or not that first month in Quad Cities was truly an anomaly.
The system could really use a power prospect to believe in. Perhaps it will be Conley.
Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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