Left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing Michael Conforto attended Redmond (Wash.) High School. He compiled a career batting average of .363 as a shortstop. Conforto hit .400 as a senior. He also was a highly acclaimed and valued member of the football team.
An accomplished hitter, Conforto earned recognition as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy while attending Oregon State University. The Mets selected him in the first round of the 2014 Draft, with the 10th overall pick.
The No. 2 prospect on the Mets' Top 30 Prospects list, Conforto was promoted to the Majors and made his big league debut against the Dodgers on July 24. New York is hopeful he can add an offensive jolt to a lineup that has had difficulty scoring runs. Conforto's bat will offer a fine youthful complement and partnership to the outstanding young Mets pitching.
I was able to watch Conforto play at the recent SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Cincinnati. Playing left field, he impressed by going 2-for-2 and scoring a run.
At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Conforto is a well-proportioned athlete with the look of a football linebacker. His strength is a tremendous asset, but he is very measured in his approach at the plate. Conforto drives his strong hands through the ball, and he generates plenty of loft and backspin with his uppercut swing.
Using the entire field, Conforto is good at taking the pitch where it is thrown and hitting the gaps. His approach results in a consistently good batting average, making hitting his best overall current tool. However, Conforto's power projects to a career of mid-20 home run totals in the future.
A patient and well-disciplined hitter, Conforto sees lots of pitches, makes loud contact and isn't at all reticent about accepting a base on balls. He stays within his plan and within his limitations very well.
Slow afoot, Conforto has limited outfield range. He is best suited to play left field, with average arm strength and average overall defensive ability. Conforto will likely reach most balls hit in his general area.
Conforto is a hitter. He will get better and better with more exposure to quality pitching and more familiarity with good breaking balls. Conforto's knowledge of the strike zone and his knack for letting a pitch travel to him allows him to make hard contact.
Ultimately, Conforto projects to be a run-producing power hitter with the selectivity and maturity to be a major offensive force in the lineup. His hitting ability should allow him to avoid lengthy slumps.
Conforto's quick rise to the Major League roster is predicated on his advanced hitting and power tools. Although he is an average defender, his defense lags behind his offense and he will have to hit to remain viable. Without great speed, Conforto won't get many, if any infield or "leg" hits. Even though there is some occasional swing and miss in his game, Conforto's success will come by him hitting loud line drives or powering the ball over the fence.
I find this interesting
No wonder Conforto is such a good athlete. Michael's mom, Tracie Ruiz-Conforto, won two gold medals in synchronized swimming in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and a silver medal in '88 at Seoul. His dad Mike was a linebacker at Penn State University.
The future for Conforto
Based upon the approach I have seen so far, with time and experience, Conforto will become a greater and greater force in the Mets' lineup. He has legitimate power upside and a sweet stroke that will result in run production from the left side of the plate.
As is the case with most young hitters, some patience will be required as the league adjusts to Conforto. However, he will have to learn to make return adjustments as pitchers try to gain an edge in their approach to him. Still only 22, Conforto has a fine future as a big league player.
Conforto in a word
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.