Opening day is less than a week away for Major League Baseball and one former Cougar has earned a spot in the Miami Marlins pitching rotation. Adam Conley, who pitched at Washington State from 2009-2011, was named the third starter in the Marlins' rotation by manager Don Mattingly.
Born in Redmond, Wash., Conley was drafted out of Olympia High School by the Minnesota Twins in the 32nd round in 2008. Conley opted instead to sign with the Cougars, where he would pitch for former head coach Donnie Marbut for three seasons. The Marlins chose Conley in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft in the second round, making him the highest draft pick out of Washington State since Aaron Sele was drafted in the first round in 1990.
Here's a brief scouting report of Conley from the Miami Herald when he was drafted:
Conley, who was rated as the 69th best overall prospect by Baseball America, went 6-7 with a 3.50 ERA as a junior at WSU last season. His coach, Donnie Marbut, envisions him as a late-inning reliever once he reaches the majors.
"I see him pitching the seventh and eighth inning for about 15 years in the big leagues," Marbut told The Olympian newspaper.
Conley was WSU's closer in 2010 before moving into the rotation this season. He features a mid-90s fastball, which he complements with a changeup, slider and curve.
After jumping through the Marlins' minor-league affiliates, Conley made his MLB debut last June for Miami. He appeared in 15 games, starting eleven and compiling a 4-1 record with an ERA of 3.76 in 67.0 innings pitched. Competing for a starting job this season, Conley's spring training stats are as good as it gets: 1-0, 1.76 ERA, 9.2 IP, and a 0.83 WHIP.
Barring any setbacks, Conley is due to make his season debut on April 7 at Washington.
Plenty of Washington State baseball players have been drafted in the past but just a fraction of them reach the big leagues. Although Conley will be WSU's lone representative come opening day, it will be exciting to watch from afar on how he fares during his first full Major League season.