COLUMBIA, SC - Two 2016 Columbia Fireflies were honored with organizational awards by the New York Mets on Monday night. P.J. Conlon was named Mets Minor League Pitcher of the Year and third baseman David Thompson garnered Columbia's Sterling Award. The Mets present the Sterling Awards annually to the most valuable player at each minor league level.
"It's a great honor for us to have had two Sterling Award winners on display in Columbia during our inaugural season," said Fireflies Team President John Katz. "In addition to P.J. and David, due to our longstanding affiliation with the Mets, six other 2016 honorees had previously played for us, including Brandon Nimmo (2013), Amed Rosario (2014), T.J. Rivera (2012), Dominic Smith (2014), Phillip Evans (2013) and Tomas Nido (2015). It's exciting to see so many of our former players succeeding at higher levels as they climb the ladder towards Citi Field."
Both Conlon and Thompson began the season with Columbia and were promoted to the Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets halfway through the year. The duo helped St. Lucie to a second-half division crown and a spot in the Florida State League playoffs. Conlon led the entire Mets organization with a 1.65 ERA and Thompson followed suit, finishing with an organization-best 95 RBIs.
"Conlon was impressive every outing and he totally dominated the league," Fireflies manager Jose Leger said earlier this season. "[Thompson] he's a guy that drives the ball well, a guy with a lot of power. He missed more than a week with an injury [while in Columbia] that slowed him down and he was still leading the league in RBIs."
Conlon's ERA wasn't just the lowest among Mets minor leaguers, it was the best mark in all of Minor League Baseball. The lefty finished with a 12-2 record (the 12 wins second to only Ricky Knapp in the Mets system) in 24 appearances (23 starts).
Thompson's RBI total was tied for 13th in all of Minor League Baseball this season. The Miami native finished the year with a .280 batting average and 11 home runs.
The duo was honored at Citi Field in New York before the Mets hosted the Atlanta Braves on Monday night. Conlon, Thompson and the rest of Sterling Award winners were treated to an on-field ceremony and a tour of the park before taking in that evening's game.
The Mets drafted Conlon in the 13th round of the 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The product of Placentia, California, took a no-hitter into the seventh frame during his 10-inning start for Columbia on June 4. He became the first pitcher in Minor League Baseball to record 10 innings since September 4, 2005.
Thompson was also one of New York's top draft picks a year ago, chosen in the fourth round out of the University of Miami. The 22-year-old's tenure with the Fireflies started with a bang; he hit safely in his first 11 games of the season. The 11-game hit streak stood as a team-best in 2016.