Brooklyn, New York — On a balmy August night, in the midst of a playoffs push, in a sixteen inning game in Coney Island, Tri-City Valley Cats Conrad Gregor‘s multiple skills were on display.
Facing the rival Brooklyn Cyclones, with Tri City leading the Stedler Division by three games, and Brooklyn trailing in McNamara by a half game, there was plenty of opportunity for Gregor to show what he’s capable of. (Tri City would win the game 5-3.)
The Astros 2013 fourth round pick, out of powerhouse Vanderbilt, has led the team in hits (67) total bases (89), and kept the strikeouts to a steady minimum. In July he struck out 17 times through thirty games. That number was sixteen in August.
He also leads the team in walks, with thirty-three as of that night, when he worked one in the the fourth inning. He’d been called out on strikes in the first, and patiently waited, allowing the count to run in his favor. In the first at-bat he appeared to jump on the ball a bit, but not the next time around. His body looked more relaxed and he quickly recognized the way Brooklyn starter Darwin Frias was pitching him. He has a steady, quiet approach and keeps his head still through his swing path.
His speed has been reported as above-average and that’s about right. He looked around average speed-wise that night, but used his baseball smarts to put that speed to better use. He showed the wheels when he scored the run later in the inning.
In the fifth he took the first pitch for a strike, again, taking a solid, focused approach. He sat on an outside pitch, to get into a 1-2 count. He would strikeout swinging, but that wasn’t unimpressive. He feels his way through and trusts his already highly developed instincts. Cutting down on strikeouts as he develops more power will give him even more of an edge.
Defensively he’s alert at first with guys on, moving fluidly back to first when the ValleyCats pitcher threw over multiple times. He’s got a strong, accurate arm, making just three errors this season. With that arm, he could easily stick somewhere in a corner outfield position.
In a game the previous night, Gregor grounded out on the second pitch he saw, but what he did in the next at-bat perfectly exemplified the quality AB’s he’s having. He laid off the first pitch, up high, and when the pitcher changed eye levels, going down and in, he took again, working the count in his favor. He won the at-bat with a walk.
His stillness, quick hands, and deliberate, slow feet and good timing give him an advantage, particularly when he’s trying to hit higher velocity. He doesn’t try to do a lot in his swing. He has a confidence that keeps him from getting overwhelmed in any count or situation. He looks like a player with an idea of what he wants to do when he steps to the plate.
As a junior at Vandy, he hit .309 with 43 RBI and 59 walks, and he’s proving his adaptability to the daily grind and new challenges of playing professionally.
Gregor hasn’t shown a sign of slowing, instead he’s only picked up developmental speed, improving and thriving as the season winds down. He’s played more games (66) than any other ValleyCat this year.
His approach is advanced for the league, and his ease at the plate, raw power with potential for more, solid build, strong forearms, quick hands and wrists, and baseball intelligence have made him one of the best players in the New York Penn League this year.
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