Michael Conforto’s nine lives, and how he’s made the most of them
When the Mets decided to call up top hitting prospect Michael Conforto on July 24th, it was reasonable to think he may have never played another minor league game after that. To this day he still hasn’t, but it’s taken a lot for that to happen.
The Mets began upgrading their roster the day they promoted Conforto from Double-A, as they later announced that the team had acquired veteran infielders Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson in a trade with the Braves.
The additions continued for the Mets and after playing in just six games for the big club, Conforto was optioned to the minors on July 31st, the day the team added Yoenis Cespedes to their roster a day after acquiring him in a trade with the Tigers. It appeared as if Conforto’s brief stint with the team had come to an end.
This is where Conforto’s strange streak of luck began.
The following day the Mets placed outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his upper back and Conforto, who hadn’t even left the team to go to Triple-A Las Vegas, was re-called and he took advantage of this second life.
In the following week, while Conforto didn’t hit for much of an average, he did come through with some big-time hits for a team that had suddenly thrust themselves into a pennant race. During the road trip to Miami and St. Petersburg, Conforto came up big, blasting his first career home run against the Marlins to jumpstart the team offensively and later in the week, he came through with a game-tying hit in the 9th inning against Rays All-Star closer Brad Boxberger.
Even after his productive week, it appeared as if Conforto’s time with the big league team was nearly up, as Michael Cuddyer was slated to return. Once again, however, Conforto survived another roster move, as the Mets opted to send Eric Campbell to Triple-A instead.
Since the team decided to stick with him, Conforto is hitting .308/.400/.615 with two doubles, two home runs, three RBI and four walks in seven games.
While Conforto continued to succeed and adjust to playing in the major leagues after being drafted just one year prior, his roster status was again in question with David Wright’s return looming as well as speculation that the team would call up left-handed reliever Dario Alvarez to aid the team’s struggling bullpen.
Conforto’s cat-like ability to stay alive was on display yet again this past weekend, as Lucas Duda was placed on the disabled list with lower-back pain to make room for Alvarez, and again, the 22-year-old outfielder was spared.
“It’s crazy,” Conforto told Newsday’s David Lennon. “The way it’s been happening. The fact that I’m still here, I just want to help the team win.”
There have been, and likely will continue to be, growing pains for Conforto. It’s nothing that’s unexpected, as he went from being drafted to playing in the major leagues in a 13-month span. That being said, the guy has shown flashes that give off the impression that he’s going to be all right. While he needs work hitting a major league breaking ball, for the most part he’s had a terrific eye at the plate and has rarely gone hacking out of the strike zone. Oh, and his swing? It’s so level, produces line drives and the occasional long ball and is built for making contact. It’s a beauty.
Even if Conforto went down for Alvarez this past, he wouldn’t have been gone long, as the rosters are just a week away from expanding. Still, though, it’s good to see this kid stick around, continue to learn, grow and produce, even if it has taken quite a bit of luck for him to do so.