January 6, 2014
This past September, the Vancouver Canadians capped off their season by winning their third straight Northwest League Championship. It was a special moment for all the players involved. Especially to C’s catcher Seth Conner who enjoyed the seemingly unbelievable experience of winning his first ever championship.
Conner, 21, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 41st round of the 2010 MLB Draft as a third baseman out of Logan-Rogersville High School. Within his first two seasons in the organization, the Missouri-native spent most of his time manning the hot corners, playing 40 games at first base and another 37 at third. His success at the plate in addition to his defensive skills enabled him to be promoted to the Lansing Lugnuts in 2013. This season, with the help of the Blue Jays organization, Conner decided to take on the role of catcher.
One of the immediate scenarios that this created was that Conner was immediately forced to split his time behind the dish with Santiago Nessy and Aaron Munoz. Evidently, the limited playing time was tough for Conner to adjust to as he was used to being an everyday player.
“Going from an everyday player to a backup catcher was a bit of a struggle,” Conner said. “Obviously, as a competitor you want to be an everyday player. If you’re in the major leagues and you’re in a backup role I think that’s okay, but in the minor leagues your goal is to be an everyday player. That’s how you get better: by playing every day.”
In Lansing, Conner batted .159 with two doubles and eight RBIs in 107 at-bats with the Blue Jays Midwest League affiliate before moving to the Northwest League in late July to finish up the year with the Vancouver Canadians.
In Vancouver, Conner batted .208 with two doubles and five RBIs in 48 at-bats. Although Conner would have preferred more production at the plate in 2013, he remains positive about his ability to produce.
“I have always been a good hitter in the minors and this season is the first year I struggled a bit, but I don’t put too much pressure on myself as I’m going to do whatever it takes to help my team win,” he said. “Whenever I’m in the lineup I’m going to give the team four or five quality at-bats a night.”
A major aspect Conner improved on throughout the 2013 season was his catching mechanics as he is still learning the nuances of the position since taking on the new role. “From a throwing prospective my season was really good,” he said. “With this past season being my first full year catching I think it went really well. The throwing aspect is the main thing I wanted to improve on this year. There’s always room for improvement, but my throwing has got a lot better and I’m feeling more confident out there for sure.”
A big aspect Conner enjoys throughout the season are the few opportunities he gets to meet fans and sign autographs as he says the fan support has been great at every stop he has made throughout the Blue Jays system.
“As players you don’t get many opportunities to interact with fans other than to go out and sign autographs or say hi to somebody in the stands, but I’m very appreciative of all the fans that come out to every game. The fan support has been awesome at every stop I’ve made throughout the system. As players we really strive off their support.”
Conner’s versatility caught the eye of Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Kenny Graham who appreciates the way he gives everything he has every game.“Conner has been a really good hitter everywhere he’s played. Seth’s major asset is he plays multiple positions even though he’s just catching this past year and he’s in a tough role not getting to play every day, but he’s the right kid for that role,” Graham said. “Seth always shows up and competes even if he hasn’t played for three or four nights. He’s going to compete at the plate and give you quality at-bats every time he has the chance.”
Whether he’s manning the hot corner or catching behind the plate, watch for Seth Conner as he continues to improve in 2014.
Click here to read Seth Conner’s previous interview with JaysProspects.