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Conforto Opening Eyes Early in Mets Camp

Michael Conforto might be on a faster track to the major leagues than first expected.

(Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Cyclones)

(Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Cyclones)

 

Although he has been in the New York Mets organization for less than a year, Michael Conforto might be on a faster track to the major leagues than first expected.

The Mets’ first-round pick in the June 2014 Amateur Draft, the lefty-hitting outfielder from Oregon State got a start in the Mets’ spring training game against the Braves on Saturday and went 3-for-3 with a textbook line drive to each field, including a double up the gap in left-center.

The Mets decision to draft a college position player was made with the idea that this draft choice wouldn’t be one who’d need to spend five or six developmental years moving up the organizational ladder before getting promoted to the major leagues. In Conforto, they were looking for a player who was a lot closer to major-league ready than that.

Last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Conforto batted .331 in 163 official at-bats. He will probably start this season at high Class A St. Lucie, but it’s not inconceivable that Conforto could be at Double-A Binghamton before the end of the season.

Baseball America rates Conforto as the No. 7 prospect in the Mets’ system and the No. 5 player among position prospects. BA’s scouting report says, “Conforto generates easy power in batting practice, but tends to work the gaps in games with a powerful lefthanded stroke. He can hammer the ball the other way, but he still has room to unlock more power by turning on inside fastballs to pull them for home runs.”

Conforto is a corner outfielder without a lot of speed. It will interesting to see whether he makes it to Citi Field first, or whether fellow lefty hitting outfielder Brandon Nimmo, a 2011 first-rounder who is the same age as Conforto and is BA’s No. 3 Met prospect, will beat him to the bigs. Right now, the two of them loom as the eventual replacements for Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer, the newly acquired veteran right fielder who nonetheless doesn’t figure into the Mets’ deeper long-term plans.

For now, Conforto is one whose development is worth watching. His level, line-drive stroke from the left side is not unlike that of Freddy Freeman, the Braves’ first baseman about whom Mets’ pitchers are all too familiar. The idea of the Mets developing their own Freddy Freeman inside their system is an enticing one for future seasons.

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