10. Adam Conley, LHP
Drafted: 2011 2nd round, 72nd overall out of Washington State University
Age: 22 Height: 6'3'' Weight: 185 lb.
In high school, Adam Conley was a lanky lefty throwing not much more than 86 mph. Conley turned down a 32nd-round selection by Minnesota in the 2008 draft to attend Washington State. During his time as a Cougar, Conley added about 10 mph to his fastball and pitched out of the bullpen until his junior season, when he moved to the starting rotation. After a fairly successful year at WSU as a junior, the Marlins selected Conley with their second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
After not seeing more than two games in the minors in 2011, Conley got his first real taste of professional baseball in 2012. As expected from a lefty with college experience, he was very impressive playing against the young players in the South Atlantic League. In 74.1 innings with Greensboro, Conley struck out 10.2 batters per nine innings and only walked 2.9 hitters per nine innings. After a promotion to High-A Jupiter, Conley's numbers came back down to earth, but he was still a very dominant pitcher.
Adam Conley has a nasty, nasty fastball. With his low arm slot, it deceives the batter's eye and looks faster than it actually is. In fact, there probably are not many lefties in the minors that throw a better fastball than Conley. Unfortunately, his slider and changeup are a lot further behind the fastball, in terms of development. His slider, which sits at about 84 mph, has its moments but is not the type of out pitch that every starting pitcher needs. His changeup is slightly better, but it still has a long way to go. Overall, Conley really needs to focus on his changeup and breaking ball in order for him to become a starter in the majors.
Conley should open the season at Double-A Jacksonville. While this will be a big jump for him from the Florida State League, he definitely has the maturity and work ethic to make the necessary adjustments needed to be successful. It is not absurd to think that Conley could make a late appearance in Miami when rosters expand, but most likely he will spend the season in the minors. Conley could potentially have more value to a major league team as a starter than a reliever, so building the strength to go deeper in games and developing his repertoire of pitches should be his main focus in 2013.
Adam Conley proved in 2012 that he has what it takes to become a starting pitcher. In 2013, facing much more experienced competition, Conley will need to show that 2012 was not a fluke and that he is able to improve his pitches. With all of his talent, Adam Conley is a pretty awesome tenth overall prospect for any system. Along with Jose Fernandez, Andrew Heaney, and others, Conley will be at the forefront of the group of young pitchers on their road to Miami.