Giants’ Prospect Michael Connolly emerged as one of the Augusta GreenJackets top starters in 2016. We caught up on his thoughts of the season and more.
I met Michael Connolly in 2016 during my internship with the GreenJackets. Connolly was taken in the 27th round of the 2013 MLB draft from University of Maine. In 2016 he emerged as a top starter, after beginning the year on the DL and subsequently out of the bullpen. Connolly was named Pitcher of the Week Aug. 7 after throwing a 1-hitter Aug. 2 versus the Columbia Fireflies. He threw his second consecutive 1-hitter a week later at the Hickory Crawdads.
William: You enjoyed a strong 2016 season (11-7, 3.05 ERA) in your first season with the Augusta GreenJackets. Talk about your mentality going into the season, and as the season was playing out, you were emerging as a top starter for the team.
Michael: Regardless of the situation, I always want to be ready for when my time comes. My time obviously came when I became a starter and I was ready for it. I didn’t care so much about personal stats. I only cared about helping my team in the best way I could to win a game.
William: You started the season in the bullpen. I’m sure you going to be happy with whatever role you have, but what do you like best between relieving and starting?
Michael: Relieving and starting are two completely different gigs. If I had the choice I would stay a starter for the rest of my career because I really enjoy getting into a routine. You have time to prepare all week long to go all out for 1 game per week.
William: You pitched a few 1-hitters on the season, including a back-to-back stretch in which you won SAL Pitcher of the Week honors the week of Aug. 1. Did you ever think about the possibility mid-game of throwing a no-hitter?
Michael: Over that period of time I felt like I was in a pretty nice groove. Sometimes you don’t know why or how it’s working, but it is. Quite honestly I didn’t have time to think about it because we were slated for a 7 inning game, and around the 2nd, the nastiest clouds rolled in. I didn’t think we were gonna get the game in so I tried to speed it up in any way possible! Just so happened that I got lucky for a few innings in a row. It is also important to remember the guys that make things happen behind you. The best games for me are low strikeout games and guys are making plays all over the place.
William: When praise and accolades start to pile up, do you find that hitters change their approach on you, or do you even have to tell yourself to slow down and remind yourself of what got you where you are?
Michael: I feel as though the higher you climb through the system, the better hitters will prepare. You will see hitters many many times over the course of the season and so it is very important to lock in and make your pitches. Trust in what you are capable of doing and that is your best chance at success. As far as praise goes, the catchers deserve equally as much, if not more. They grind everyday and were really special this year.
William: I know you are a pretty loose guy; are you a prankster on the team?
Michael: I wouldn’t say prankster, but I tend to get a chuckle or 2 out the the guys every once in a while.
William: Talk about the expectations you have for yourself going into 2017.
Michael: I have the same approach going in to every season. Compete, compete, compete. We have the entire off season to train and get ready for the long haul of 140 plus games, so it is vital to utilize that time. I expect to stay within myself and limit my mistakes.
William: I know you are finishing your degree at this time. What are your post-baseball goals in life?
Michael: I always wanted to go the coaching route, but I have options that I need to weigh. My old man owns his own construction business, so the managerial side of that is always something as well. My degree in child development opens up a ton of doors and I could also potentially go to the police academy and become a detective specializing in domestic violence. For now, I’ll concentrate on ball!