19. LHP Conner Menez
Acquired: 2016 draft (14th round)
Future Value: 40
If you were watching a Conner Menez bullpen session and someone told you of his rapid ascent through the minor leagues, you would probably assume from his low 90s fastball and the absence of a plus pitch that he cut from the Ty Blach or Andrew Suarez mold as a lefty with a contact-oriented approach.
The numbers tell a different story. With 154 strikeouts and 50 walks in 121 innings at the upper levels of the minors, one might assume his fastball sits in the high 90s and is paired with an elite breaking ball that he had trouble commanding.
Neither would be correct.
His fastball and changeup are both average pitches, while his slider flashes plus and his curveball grades out as a 40-grade pitch at best. However, an extreme short arm in his delivery creates some deception and allows his stuff to play up.
A 90-92 mph fastball generally would be a well below-average pitch, but Menez also generates a high spin rate that gives hitters problems, especially in the minor leagues.
With that said, Menez doesn’t have a huge margin for error. With a lack of a true out pitch, he can get too cautious and issue costly free passes.
While he lacks the big curveball, his short arm, beard, and mechanics are somewhat reminiscent of Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt started his career as a contact-oriented starter before eventually shifting to a high-leverage bullpen role. Menez could follow a similar path.
At the moment, his two biggest challenges are command and his secondary pitches. Eventually, he will have to trust his stuff to work in the strike zone. He’ll always be a bit prone to home runs, so limiting free passes is the key to succeeding in the rotation. The changeup seems further along than the slider at the moment, but neither has been consistent.
With the San Francisco Giants set to address the uncertainty of their pitching rotation this offseason, Menez is likely to be on the MLB roster in some capacity. What that role looks like will be heavily influenced by the closing weeks of the season and spring training.