SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Connor Grey, a former pitcher for the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, said playing for the Bonnies gave him a better chance to play against better competition.
“It gave me the opportunity to get looked at by scouts and definitely getting stronger was a big advantage having strength coaches,” He said. “The coaches also helped me prepare to move to the next level and instilled a good mindset in me.”
In the 2016 MLB Draft, Grey was selected in the 20th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he pitched for their Single-A affiliate, the Hillsboro Hops. The biggest adjustment for him has been the hitters.
“With college, there’s usually some weaker hitters in the lineup somewhere, but in pro ball there’s not too many easy outs,” Grey said.
Through college and now the professional ranks, Grey said his older brother has been his biggest role model.
“It was always playing against him and him pushing me to get better to be able to play with kids two years older than me,” he said. “He was always better than me, so it was me always competing to try to beat him and he did things the right way, so I tried to be like him.”
Grey didn’t, at first, think he was going to get any looks, until scouts started to notice, and that’s when it became a reality for him.
“I have all the confidence in the world in myself but it was just getting the right people to see me,” Grey said.
Two perks of being a professional baseball player for Grey are, “To tell people your job is a professional baseball player, and another is that I’m getting paid to play a game I love to play.”
Since being in the majors, Grey’s managers have been the most help to his game and confidence.
“They always believed in me and always kept putting the ball in my hand, and that gave me more confidence on the mound and to keep getting better because you don’t want to let your coaches and teammates down,” he said. “Having both of them being former big leaguers, that is a huge advantage of using them to help you get better and picking their brain on things.
Grey’s managers in his first season with the Hops were Shelly Duncan and Joe Mather. Duncan played six years in the majors for the New York Yankees (2007-2009), Cleveland Indians (2010-2012) and Tampa Bay Rays (2013). Mather played four seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals (2008-2010), Atlanta Braves (2011) and Chicago Cubs (2012).
A bit of advice from Grey for aspiring professional baseball players is to, “Give it your best and always keep your head up and leave it all on the field because you never know when it’s going to be the last time you step on the field. You never know who is watching so always act professional.”
Grey says he hopes to be sent to low-A to start the season and work his way up to high-A by the end.