Putting Up ‘Video-Game’ Numbers, Conley Named Player Of Week
On the day of the Jamestown Jammers’ Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season opener, Coach Anthony Barone approached veteran catcher Christ Conley about his availability to play.
Bothered by a leg infection in recent weeks, it seemed like a fair enough question.
Well, let’s just say it was rather colorful.
“He said, ‘You will not take me out of the lineup,'” Barone recalled as he sat in his office at Diethrick Park on Monday afternoon. “It was a very strong and vocal conversation. I think that says a lot about what he thinks about Jamestown and his appreciation of this team.”
So when Barone filled out the lineup card for that night’s game against Saugerties, the Canisius College product found himself in the middle of the order.
It’s safe to say that’s where Conley will stay for the balance of the summer.
Returning for his second season with the Jammers, Conley was rewarded Monday for his production so far in 2017 as he was named the PGCBL Player of the Week.
A native of Derby, Conley guided the Jammers to a 7-2 start and has been a key cog in one of the league’s hottest offenses.
In the first nine games, he has batted .462 (12-for-26) — tied for the second-highest average among qualifying batters — with four doubles, seven RBIs and league highs in both runs scored (12) and walks (12). Thanks to his dozen free passes and five hit-by-pitches, Conley also sits atop the league with a whopping .644 on-base percentage.
All those crooked numbers are a sight for sore eyes to his coach.
“He’s just been so steady, his consistency with his at-bats, (his presence) behind the plate, his calling the game. It just translates into success,” Barone said. “Anytime you have him behind the plate, you’re going to be in the game.”
In 2016, Conley batted .306 (38-for-124) with seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and 25 RBIs. In addition, he walked 42 times, was hit by pitch on 12 occasions and struck out just 16 times. His on-base percentage stood at .505.
“Christ has been the leader of this team the last two years,” Barone said. “When you develop a team it always starts behind the plate. When Christ told me he wanted to come back, you can build a team around a guy like that.”
During his Canisius College season this spring, Conley batted .299 (47-for-157) with eight doubles, one triple, three home runs and 41 RBIs. He recorded 34 walks, was hit by pitch 20 times and his on-base percentage was a robust .468. As a team, the Golden Griffins finished the season 35-22.
About a month from the end of his collegiate season, Conley has taken his play up a notch.
“It’s video-game (numbers),” Barone said. “This doesn’t happen. This isn’t something that’s common. … You couldn’t do this in Little League.”
As a redshirt junior, Barone believes Conley will have a chance at a pro career.
“What scouts have told me is he’s a fringe prospect, meaning he could go or he might not,” Barone said. “I personally believe he’s a pro guy. I’m sure by the time he’s done with his senior year he’ll have a chance to get drafted or sign a professional contract.”
Until then, Barone is just going to enjoy having the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder in his clubhouse, his dugout, in the batter’s box and behind the plate.
“We’re 20 percent into the season, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to continue to translate, because he did it last season,” Barone said. “He does a good job of mentoring the catchers behind him and the pitching staff. … It’s not the offensive production only, it’s how he handles the staff. He puts everyone at ease.
“I hope for him he gets that chance at professional baseball, because I think once he gets in an organization he’ll flourish and they’ll fall in love with him.”