Baseball: For Conner Menez, reality is better than a dream

Conner Menez, a 2013 San Benito High graduate, signed a contract with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

Conner Menez grew up watching the San Francisco Giants and 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
“I always watched him on TV and kind of modeled my ways after him,” said Menez, a 2013 San Benito High graduate. “I want to be just like him.”
That very situation could play out, as Menez signed a contract with the Giants on Tuesday after being selected by the organization in the 14th round of the Major League Baseball Draft (pick No. 425 overall) on June 11. Talk about a dream come true.
“I’m still on Cloud Nine,” said Menez, who recently completed his junior year at The Master’s College, a NAIA program in Santa Clarita. “The feeling hasn’t fully sunk in yet.”
Menez was already in Scottsdale at the Giants spring training camp Tuesday. He’ll play his first Arizona Rookie Ball League game on June 20.
“It was super cool being in the clubhouse and taking part in the first practice,” he said. “It’s pretty unreal. Touring the field and the stadium, it was pretty sick.”
Sick and filthy are words many people would use in describing Menez’s pitching repertoire. Armed with a low 90s fastball to go along with a tremendous change-up and slider, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound left-hander dazzled MLB scouts during the 2015 Alaskan Baseball League summer season playing for the Chugiak Chinooks.
“I had some really good success there,” Menez said. “I kind of started dominating and got the top prospect (award) up there.”
To cement his draft prospects, however, Menez knew he had to follow up the summer league season with another outstanding year at The Master’s—and that’s exactly what he did. Menez allowed just 78 hits while striking out 103 with a 2.47 ERA in 102 innings pitched this past season.
The MLB Draft went from June 9 to 11, and Menez was actually told by scouts and his agent there was a good chance he could go in Rounds 8 to 10. When that didn’t happen, Menez was “a little disappointed.” However, when the Giants selected him on the third day of the draft, the disappointment turned into euphoria.
Menez is the classic case of a late bloomer, a player who had the physical assets but needed time to grow into his body. Once Menez’s physical talent and mental confidence came together, he became a bona-fide draft prospect. Even during his senior year at San Benito High—where he started at pitcher and first base—Menez wasn’t one of the team’s headline players.
“My senior year is where I started blossoming,” he said. “But I still didn’t stand out too much then. I was still kind of developing.”
Menez received three scholarship offers out of high school: from The Master’s, the University of New Mexico and Trevecca Nazarene, a Division II program in Tennessee. However, The Master’s offered Menez the best package, and the Christian university also had something else going for it, as both of Menez’s parents along with his uncle attended and played sports at the school.
From his senior year at San Benito High to today, the 21-year-old Menez has worked diligently and taken well to the expertise he’s been provided along the way. Menez said he owed a huge thanks to his grandfather, Bill Plummer, who is the roving catcher instructor for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Plummer also was a backup catcher to Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.
“He was a huge part of helping me get drafted,” Menez said. “He’s always helped me with my mechanics.”
Menez credited his college coaches for refining his mechanics and helping him to develop into a pitcher, not just a thrower. Menez’s development coincided with physical growth, and all of a sudden scouts religiously started attending his games. Menez said the Giants and four other teams called him and his agent the night before the third day of the draft asking what dollar amount it would take to sign (a common draft occurrence).
“I just signed the contract (Tuesday) for the amount and policy,” he said. I didn’t see anywhere how long it (the contract) is. Hopefully, I’m here for a long time.”
Menez expressed appreciation for his parents, Scott and Gina, who currently reside in Daytona Beach, Fla. Menez was with his parents when he saw the live feed coming in that the Giants had drafted him.
“We all went crazy,” he said. “My dad went crazy, my mom went crazy, so it was really special sharing that experience with them. Getting to go to the Giants, I’m super stoked for that. It was the best day of my life.”
Three years ago, Menez had just graduated high school, never really thinking about the day he could get drafted. Back then, it was too far from reality. But one person knew it all along.
“My dad told me to just wait,” Menez said. “That I’m a late bloomer, and I’ll pass up a lot of guys (to get drafted). I just didn’t think it was a possibility back then. A lot of people didn’t think I’d be where I am today.”

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