Michael Conforto was the first domino to fall in the New York Mets pursuit of the 2015 playoffs, but he’s still just scratching the surface of stardom.
By Aniello Piro
Michael Conforto, 22, had an impressive rookie season, but isn’t necessarily guaranteed a starting job in 2016.
Conforto played primarily against right handed pitching in his first season, and will need to show he can hit left handed pitching if he wants to solidify himself as an everyday outfielder.
Conforto talked to Mike Puma of the New York Post about how he plans to grow in his sophomore season:
“I just want to become a more complete player,” Conforto said Wednesday, the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers at spring training. “There’s some things I need to lock down a little bit on defense and some things I need to learn on the bases and obviously there’s some things I need to learn at the plate, so I want to be a more complete player, a smarter player and hanging around these guys is going to help me do that.”
Conforto got the call to the big leauges right around last year’s trade deadline, and made an immediate impact for a Mets team in need of an offensive boost. In his brief time in the bigs, Conforto slashed .270/.335/.506.
With the impressive start to his career, both fans and executives expect big things from the youngster in 2016.
“We hope he can build on his excellent rookie season,” general manager Sandy Alderson said. “We expect him to be a significant contributor this year.”
Conforto learned that major league pitchers pick up on hit trends quickly. Conforto is a natural pull hitter, and found trouble throughout the season as pitchers realized it.
Pitchers would start to pound the outside part of the strike zone against Conforto, knowing he struggled at hitting the outside pitch.
Michael told reporters that he wants to improve at covering the plate, as well as hitting the outside pitches.
“I want to be able to cover more of the plate and be more comfortable on some pitches in situations that I struggled with in the past,” he said. “It was a real productive offseason, but at the same time I’m happy to be back.”
Conforto’s ability to hit lefties and the outside pitch will dictate the amount of success Conforto will have in ’16 and beyond.
While Conforto’s upside offensively is tremendous he has to improve defensively as well. Out of college and all throughout the minors Conforto was regarded as a poor defender; however, showed he could play an effective left field during his stint in the majors.
Conforto will have to become comfortable in the outfield to truly solidify himself as a starter on this Mets squad. In addition to left field Conforto will likely see some playing time in right field with the expectation that Curtis Granderson will get days off against lefties at some point during the season.
“I’m going to get a chance to work on that this spring training, and that was one of the things I worked on when I was back home,” Conforto said. “Just making sure I got reps from both sides in the outfield and being comfortable.”
If Conforto is able to iron out a few hiccups in his play, the sky is the limit.