There might not be a player with more buzz around his name right now than Duke’s Griffin Conine. The potential has always been there, but with his outstanding 2017 season for the Blue Devils and his big summer on the Cape, it appears the son of longtime major leaguer Jeff Conine is fully growing into that immense potential.
Going all the way back to 2016, his career got off to a bit of a slow start in Durham. In 35 games, including 20 starts, he hit .206/.305/.247 with just three extra-base hits, all of which were doubles.
You always kind of expect a sizable jump from a player’s freshman season to his sophomore season. At that point, the player has gotten accustomed to the physicality and rigor of playing a college season, they’ve had a full year of conditioning and nutrition in a college program, and everything just seems to slow down.
But what Conine did as a sophomore was more than just a sizable jump compared to his first season. It was a relative leap into the stratosphere.
In 2017, he hit .298/.425/.546 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBI, and he was a perfect 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts. Over the summer, he kept the ball rolling with a monster season for Cotuit on the Cape. He put up a .329/.406/.537 slash line with five doubles, nine homers, and 28 RBI.
Coming out of the summer, D1Baseball.com ranked him third on their list of top prospects on the Cape, behind only the high-octane arms of Mississippi’s Ryan Rolison and Stetson’s Logan Gilbert. More recently, on their newly-released list of the top 100 prospects for the 2018 draft, D1Baseball.com placed Conine tenth, putting him one spot behind South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty and one spot ahead of Connecticut’s Tim Cate, two other players we have discussed at length on this countdown.
Duke, under head coach Chris Pollard, seems to have found a new gear as a program. Getting into a regional two years ago was a monumental achievement for the program, but they’re not satisfied with doing so only so often. The talent level has steadily increased on the roster, typified by Conine’s emergence, and in 2018, we might really begin to see the fruits of that labor as the Blue Devils begin the next chapter in program history as a perennial regional team.