Michael Conforto‘s impressive start to spring training has not gone unnoticed. The former tenth overall pick has hit .714 with two home runs and three RBIs in three games so far. Despite the small sample size, Conforto and his perfect swing appear to be in great shape.
His hitting this well is a good problem to have, as the 23 year-old resides in an overcrowded outfield. He is going to have to fight Jay Bruce for the everyday right field job, let alone a spot on the opening day roster. However, if the numbers persist there are a few pending factors that could make room for the youngster.
The concern around Lucas Duda‘s potential DL stint as well as Conforto’s hitting have gotten Bruce working at first base. An unhealthy Lucas Duda and/or a Jay Bruce adjustment would likely have Terry Collins turning to Conforto to man right field, especially if he continues mashing the ball.
Conforto may even find another home in line with the Home Run Apple in center field. After speaking with AP‘s Bill Whitehead, Conforto confirmed he would be “open to [playing center],” a position he tried out (and impressed at) last season.
Because all three of these mentioned players are lefties, it is impractical to bring the idea of a straight platoon into the equation. It is worth noting that Conforto’s two home runs this spring have come against left-handed pitching which is a great sign, but wouldn’t mean much unless he can continue the trend.
After an impressive 2015 and April of 2016, Conforto regressed mightily hitting .220/.310/.414 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs in 109 Major League Games. He did, however, demolish minor league pitching during a 33-game stint, hitting .422/.483/.727 (1.209 OPS) with nine home runs, 28 RBIs, eight doubles and two triples.
It would be nice to see that perfect swing live up to its potential, and this could be the year we do.