2011 MLB DRAFT: Sizing Up Adam Conley And The Cougs

WSU left hander Adam Conley, who throws in the low- to mid-90s, is likely to hear his name called early in the 2011 MLB Draft next week. (Photo used with permission from WSU Sports Information Department)

The 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft begins on Monday with the first round, and while Washington State is unlikely to have any players selected in those first 33 picks, there should be a number of Cougars picked on Tuesday. Leading the way will be hard-throwing lefty Adam Conley, WSU's Friday-night starter this year.

Conley, who was 6-7 with a 3.50 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 108 innings, intrigues scouts with his low- to mid-90s fastball. Baseball America considered him one of the top 30 prospects in the country as recently as January, and although his performance dipped a bit as the season went on, he's still going to be a hot commodity. Much like 7-footers in basketball, live-armed lefties don't grow on trees.

To get a full read on Conley's draft prospects, we dialed up Jason Churchill of ESPN.com's MLB Draft Blog and ProspectInsider.com for a podcast interview. He's scouted Conley earlier this year, writing this at Prospect Insider:

Conley's slider is at best a 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale but he's usually 90-94 and has hit 97 early in starts this spring. He'll go in the first five rounds because of the velocity, but he might be a reliever, limiting his upside.

We asked Churchill to expand on his thoughts in the podcast. Here's a sneak preview:

He does bring velocity to the table, and with a left-hander, that's something you don't see a lot. If you look into the big leagues, and you think about the rotations, there's not a lot of starting pitchers that are left handed that throw 92, 93, 94 miles an hour. We've seen a little bit of an infusion of that lately with the David Price's of the world, but there's still not a lot of it. It's still rare. Throwing 92-95 miles an hour as a starter, which is generally where Conley's been, you're going to catch scouts' eyes, and he's certainly done that.

You'll have to listen to the podcast to get the full breakdown, including what round he's likely to be drafted in. Churchill also had some thoughts on what righty Chad Arnold's struggles this year have done to his draft stock -- he was the Cougars' top pitcher and a fifth 18th-round pick* a year ago but couldn't reach terms on a contract, so he returned to school, only to suffer an elbow injury -- and whether power hitting first baseman Taylor Ard should return to school. (His answer to the latter question may surprise you.)

As usual, you can listen to the audio via the player below, or visit our podcast page for myriad ways to subscribe to all of our audio. (Our podcast page now has a mobile option for those of you reading this on your phone.) You can also find us in the iTunes directory under keyword "CougCenter," or simply click this link. The advantage of subscribing? Besides having the audio directly delivered to your player of choice, I often upload the audio to the podcast site before posting it here.

Also, if you own an Android phone (and I know many of you do), you have no reason not to download the Listen app and subscribe using this link. If you click on it from your mobile browser, you can complete the action with Listen. DO IT.

*EDIT: I have no idea how I got fifth round stuck in my head. That's so far off from what it was, I feel really dumb. Sorry everyone.
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