SF Giants Post-Prospect Prospects:
#7 LHP Conner Menez
Acquired: Draft (2016, 14th round)
Future Value: 35+
Career MLB Stats: 15 G, 28.1 IP, 4.13 ERA, 5.73 FIP, 5.4 BB/9, 9.5 K/9
Conner Menez quickly ascended through the Giants minor leagues. At one time, he looked to be cut from the Ty Blach or Andrew Suarez mold as a lefty with a contact-oriented approach. However, he’s consistently generated swings-and-misses.
His fastball and changeup are both average pitches, while his slider flashed as an above-average pitch. He’s thrown a curveball sporadically but has little feel for the pitch. However, an extreme short arm in his delivery creates enough deception to enable his stuff to play up.
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.
He did make a few starts last season but has more consistently worked out of the pen at the big-league level. Given the organization’s choice to bring in journeymen like Drew Smyly and Kevin Gausman this offseason, they seem to view Menez’s future as a reliever as well.
This season, Menez has pitched much more like the soft-throwing lefty scouts thought they were looking at in college. His walk and strikeout rates have dropped, but he’s remained effective by limiting hard contact. His average exit velocity against ranks at elite levels and is a big part of his 2.38 ERA. Granted, FIP (5.62) and xERA (4.01) were skeptical of that success’ sustainability.
There’s a minimal chance of Menez sticking in the rotation at this point, but he might be an option as a bridge 2-3 inning guy to be paired with an opener. His command needs to improve, but his propensity to generate strikeouts throughout the minor leagues leaves room to dream on Menez being more productive than his stuff suggests on paper.