Conner Menez Sneaks Into Giants' Plans
Not every strikeout pitcher throws in the high 90s. Lefthander Conner Menez might rate as Exhibit A.
Just ask Double-A Richmond pitching coach Glenn Dishman. Menez is "one of the sneakiest lefties I’ve seen in awhile. I really like his stuff,” the coach said.
With a fastball that sits in the 92-94 mph range, Menez had 92 strikeouts in 74 innings with Richmond last season. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound southpaw began 2018 at high Class A San Jose and also made two spot starts for Triple-A Sacramento. All told he struck out 171 in 135.1 innings.
Menez believes the extension in his delivery helps him get swings and misses.
"I have a really long stride and I get out there super far off the mound,” he said, "so the ball gets on the hitters a lot quicker than they expect."
Dishman said Menez "tends to, every once in a while, push the ball to the top of the zone." That tends to generate swings above opponents' barrels.
In addition to his fastball, Menez throws a slider as his main secondary pitch, plus a curveball and changeup.
The Giants drafted Menez in the 14th round in 2016 out of the Master’s College, an NAIA school in Southern California.
Menez flashed his potential in one of those two Triple-A starts last year: He threw seven scoreless, one-hit innings at El Paso on May 31. He also struck out eight.
"I felt like I could just command my fastball in and out to hitters that game,” Menez said. "And I could throw my slider for an out pitch.”
When Dishman was asked which one or two things Menez needs to improve, the coach played off the old real-estate line.
"Command. And command. And command,” Dishman cracked.
Menez, who turns 24 on May 29, averaged four walks per nine innings last year. He said he spent much of this spring training, his first in big league camp, trying to improve his command.
"Once he really hones that in,” Dishman said, "I think he’s got a great chance to pitch in the big leagues.”
— The Giants made a pair of Rule 5 draft-related transactions near the end of spring training. They parted with their own pick and traded for another to take his place.
The Giants returned outfielder Drew Ferguson to the Astros after he cleared waivers. He went 3-for-27 in spring training. At the same time, San Francisco traded righthander Jordan Johnson and cash to the Reds for 26-year-old Connor Joe, a Rule 5 pick who plays both corner infield positions. Joe hit .255/.327/.404 with four doubles and a home run for the Reds this spring.