Driven, loyal and fearless.
Three words Head WSU Baseball Coach, Donnie Marbut, used to describe Adam Conley, a former Coug and now All-Star pitcher of the Jacksonville Suns.
A starting southpaw for the Suns, the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, Conley currently sits at a 9-4 record with an ERA of 3.41 accumulating 93 strikeouts in 100 IP.
With the third best record in the Southern League and a strikeout total sitting at seventh-best, Conley is considered a top-10 prospect for the Marlins according to bleacherreport.com.
Conley was also selected to participate in the Southern League All-Star Game, which was played on July 17.
“Typically, I try to get in and out of there as fast as I can,” Conley said of his single inning pitched in the game.
Conley’s numbers speak to his potential, but many say his devotion to personal development and continual pursuit in making it to the big leagues speaks more to his ability.
Current teammate, friend and fellow pitcher, Scott McGough, who also happens to be a former Pac-12 rival of Conley’s, said what Conley's mentality makes him a great pitcher.
“Everyday he comes to work, he has the same mentality every time he gets out on the field,"McGough said. “He loves what he’s doing."
This approach isn’t surprising, since Conley said playing professional baseball was something he has wanted to do since a very young age.
In high school, Conley said he was offered a baseball scholarship to the University of Washington, but declined it because he wanted to go to WSU.
But the Cougars weren’t that interested, Conley said, at least not until his senior year of high school when he attended a WSU baseball camp.
“We didn’t really show him we wanted him that much, so for him to stay persistent, he became his own recruiter,” Marbut said. “And in his three years here,he became a huge part of our program.”
His experience at WSU wasn’t without a few struggles. After successful freshman and sophomore seasons, Conley broke his pitching hand, which kept him from playing for a USA Baseball team during the summer, as well as the Brewster Whitecaps out of the Cape Cod League.
“Baseball was basically my idol in life and when it was taken away, I had a glimpse of what that feeling was going to be like when baseball goes away,"Conley said."It scared me. I knew I needed to hold onto something more permanent."
During this time, Conley met his wife, Kendall, and became a Christian.
"I turned to my faith and my family,"he said."It was the first time in my life that I had made a decision off-the-field that significantly affected what I wanted to accomplish on the field.”
Both Marbut and Conley attributed these experiences to a change in Conley’s approach to baseball and perspective.
“I think that was a really big moment for him where he realized that ‘I have to do all these things right or I could have my career taken away,’” Marbut said. “He just started working and not just at baseball, but in everything he did, as hard as he could.”
“I faced a lot of really good hitters and got a lot of good experience in college, but I think the person that I was when I left, both as a man and baseball player, was the biggest improvement I made while at Washington State,” Conley said.
His personal development, coupled with a near 10 mph increase in his arm and a fearless mentality, are what made Conley, Marbut said.
“He has zero fear,” Marbut said. “He wants the ball in the biggest situations. He has never been afraid of the moment.”
Those moments are ones that Conley said he embraces, puts his head down and runs through.
“You fail so much in this game, that if you are afraid to fail it’s going to become a really tough game,” Conley said.