Conley shows he's ready for Marlins rotation

Mattingly impressed with lefty's commitment, improved fastball

Conley shows he's ready for Marlins rotation

JUPITER, Fla. -- Go ahead and call Adam Conley a man on a mission. He doesn't mind because it's true. The 25-year-old left-hander entered Spring Training with something to prove, and he backed it up by being one of the most consistent performers in Marlins camp.

If the exhibition season is any indication, Conley is primed to have a breakout year for Miami. The former Washington State standout has earned the right to be in the rotation, and he may eventually emerge as a frontline-caliber starter.

"I said earlier, it looks like he's on a mission, with just the way he goes about his business," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's not really leaving any stone unturned."

Conley's attention to detail has been unwavering since pitchers and catchers reported in mid-February.

Normally, you don't put much stock in Spring Training performances. And statistics aren't what really is standing out with Conley. It's a combination of things, from how he prepares to how he's throwing.

Take his velocity, for instance. In 67 big league innings last year, Conley's average fastball, according to Fangraphs, was 91.3 mph. His strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate was 7.93. The readings are good, not great.

For much of Spring Training, his fastball has been in the 93-96 mph range, and he occasionally touches 97. The lanky lefty always had power-arm potential. It just didn't surface in the past for a variety of reasons.

Now with some mechanical adjustments, he not only is generating more power with his pitches, but he's improving his command.

"The time that I had in the big leagues last year, I learned more about the game of baseball than in any other time in my life," Conley said. "Just because of the quality of the players I was facing and the adjustments they make, there's just so much more information available."

Conley was 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 15 big league games with 11 starts in 2015.

As a Minor Leaguer, he compiled a career mark of 34-21 with a 3.52 ERA.

Each player's time clock is different, but now Conley is showing why he was a second-round pick in 2011.

"He's a guy who has been committed to everything he's doing," Mattingly said. "He pays attention to pretty much every area of the game that we're asking him to do. So there is nothing really for him to prove other than, can you do it all the time?"

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.