Pitching just an hour from his hometown, Adam Conley had more support than usual in the stands on June 5.
The 25-year-old left-hander was making his first professional start in his home state of Washington, with more than 30 friends and family in the stands as the Zephyrs took on the Tacoma Rainiers. Conley, who resides nearby in Olympia, Washington, gave his supporters plenty to cheer for.
Conley delivered his best start of the year, throwing 7 1/3 innings, scattering six hits and three runs, while striking out eight as the Z’s won 6-4. He threw 72 of his 107 pitches for strikes and turned in his longest start of the year.
“There was more adrenaline in that start than others. I just felt like the atmosphere there was a little more electric for me, knowing who was there and everything and just from the baseball side of it, it’s a great atmosphere there in Tacoma,” Conley said. “But on top of it, knowing there were so many friends and family there watching me put it over the edge.”
But the great feeling that Conley had following his best start of the season was only multiplied three days later when the Marlins called him up for his Major League debut.
“It was an awesome week for me, that’s for sure. It’s one I won’t forget,” Conley said. “When you go through professional baseball you wonder what that day is going to be like, and over the past few years, I was anticipating it more and was more anxious about that day coming. As I’ve gotten older, I understand better that when I was going to go up there, I needed to be ready and give myself the best chance to stay.”
Conley did his part, setting down the side in order on only six pitches on June 10 at Toronto. Although he was returned to New Orleans on June 12, Conley was able to take in the full experience of being in the bigs and pitching on a new mound, in a new stadium in front of all kinds of new fans.
“What I like to do, and I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now, is when I get to a new stadium that I’ve never been to, I take a good look around then so when I go out there to pitch, it’s not going to be the first time I’ve been out there,” he said. “I had not only the early stretching and throwing program before the game, but I sat through two games from start to finish and it was actually the last defensive inning for us in the whole series, so I had a lot of time to take it in and be with the guys and learn the ropes.”
In two starts upon returning to Triple-A, Conley has earned a pair of victories, including Wednesday’s win over Round Rock when he limited the Express to one hit in six scoreless innings.
The win was Conley’s seventh of the year to move him into a tie for the Pacific Coast League lead, and he lowered his ERA to 2.61, putting him in consideration for the third All-Star nod of his career in his third different level of the Marlins organization.
But Conley said he’s just pitching more consistently to get more outs this season, after struggling in his first taste of Triple-A in 2014.
“I don’t think the things I am doing well right now are any better than they have been in the past when I do things well,” he said. “But I think it’s just limiting those mistakes and being more consistent. When I go out there I don’t do anything special. I just try and move my fastball to both sides of the plate and I try and get ahead and stay ahead.”
“When I can throw three pitches for a strike, on both sides of the plate, I like my chances. I think hitting is the hardest thing to do in sports and I try and keep that in mind when I’m on the mound.”