Conley's Career Continues To Blossom
May 5, 2009
By Allen Wagner
At this point in Kyle Conley's college baseball career, there isn't much left to accomplish.
With 40 career home runs, he is two short of tying the all-time UW record held by Ed Erickson. He was drafted in the 16th round of last year's MLB draft and is sure to be drafted again this year. And his team has begun winning again, something it hasn't done on a regular basis in weeks.
There's just one thing left that Conley wants to do.
'We haven't been to a regional since I've been here, and I kind of take it personally when a team that you've been a part of doesn't make it to postseason,' Conley said.
Whether or not the Huskies make the postseason -- a tough job for a team that has an overall record below .500, despite a 10-8 Pac-10 record -- the right fielder will likely go down in history as one of the UW's best hitters.
UW head coach Ken Knutson compared Conley to the Red Sox's Jason Bay, someone with lots of raw power and the work ethic to harness it in the big leagues.
'He's consistent in the way he approaches baseball,' Knutson said. 'He hustles really well. He's conscientious about getting his work done and doing it right.'
Playing another year and having more success than ever is only helping Conley's cause.
He is batting .348 with 17 home runs and 46 RBI, and with more than 10 games left, he could easily push those numbers up into school-record-breaking territory.
The junior from Richland, Wash., has also shown plenty of patience at the plate with a team-leading 32 walks and has shown himself to be a capable defender, Knutson said.
'I tell scouts this: If you wanted to see how you should practice and play baseball and how your approach should be in a student-athlete, if you watch Conley, you'd have the perfect picture. He's stellar at all those things,' Knutson said.
Because of this, there's a high chance for him to be drafted in a higher round this year, especially since he's shown that he is not only the conference's best power hitter, but that he is also better than he was last year, when he hit .337 with 19 homers and 57 RBI.
And if he continues on his current path, Knutson believes Conley could make an impact in the minor leagues and ultimately, move up.
'I know this sounds simplistic, but if he hits, he's going to be in the big leagues,' Knutson said. 'The power will be there no matter if he hits or not, but you can't hit .175 and 20 home runs and expect to get out of A-ball. He has to hit .275, .280 in the minor leagues, and the power shows up, and then he's going to continue to move.'
Conley, though, would rather focus on the here and now: helping his team make the postseason for the first time since 2004, no matter the odds.
'I'm not really thinking about the draft,' Conley said. 'I want to come out and do what I came back for: to make the regionals. We're on the right track, and it's in our hands. So from here on out, it's going to be pretty fun.'