Conine settling in with Canadians

Jays' second-round pick posts second career three-hit game

Griffin Conine was called up to the Northwest League after playing two games in the Gulf Coast League (James Snook)

By Josh Horton / | June 30, 2018 1:54 AM

Not all of the Blue Jays' many prospects with rich big league bloodlines make a stop at Class A Short Season Vancouver, so the Canadians are going to enjoy 2018 second-round pick Griffin Conine as long they have him. 

Gameday box score

The son of former big leaguer Jeff Conine went 3-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs in Vancouver's 11-1 drubbing of Salem-Keizer on Friday at Nat Bailey Stadium. 

While top Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and second-ranked Bo Bichette skipped the Northwest League, Conine joins Kacy Clemens (2017), Cavan Biggio (2016) and Dwight Smith Jr. (2012) as sons of former Major Leaguers to play for Vancouver in the Toronto system. 

"I don't think I really knew all the bloodline Draft picks they had until after," Conine said. "But then I started to see a lot of talk about it on Instagram and Twitter. But it's pretty cool. I have a lot of guys that had a similar upbringing to me, having a dad that played that long in the Major Leagues. It's definitely cool having a lot of guys that are so close to age -- hopefully, we'll be playing together in a couple years. ... I'm definitely excited." 

Sharing the same last name as a successful big leaguer brings expectations, but having a father who came up through the Minor Leagues to bounce thoughts off is a nice asset. Conine said his dad offered some advice to prepare for the grind. 

"He spent two or three years in the Minor Leagues and that was the biggest takeaway from him is that you have to grind through it," Conine said. "He talked a lot about journaling, that's something that he picked up in the Minors with all his free time, mostly about hitting stuff and getting to write it down and put your thoughts on paper. That's something I've started doing." 

As a high school senior in 2015, he was drafted in the 31st round by Miami -- the organization with which his father earned the nickname "Mr. Marlin" -- but didn't sign. Even with his father's cache within the organization at the time, Conine said he wasn't tempted much by being drafted out of high school.

"For me, the plan was always to go to college," Conine said. "I don't think I was nearly ready for professional baseball. I had a lot of work I need to do and a lot of maturing to do. College was kind of always the plan and I was really looking forward to going to Duke. 

"I'm really impressed with guys that can come out right out of high school and have a professional career. That's something I wasn't ready for. It was a pretty easy call to go to Duke and do my three years and have a good time, work on my game and get ready for it." 

The Blue Jays selected him with the 52nd overall pick in this year's Draft. 

Conine profiles as a corner outfielder with big power and sound defensive skills. He slugged 18 homers in 216 at-bats for Duke this season, helping lead the Blue Devils to the NCAA Super Regionals. In 2017, Duke made its first NCAA tournament appearance in 50 years. 

"It was really cool to be a part of a program that's changing for the better and going in that direction," Conine said. "Coach [Chris] Pollard is doing an unbelievable job with all his coaching staff and it was great to be a part of all that and watch the team mold into a top 10 team and get to play the best teams in the country and have a nice little playoff run like we did at the end there." 

After going 3-for-8 in his first two professional games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, Conine joined the Canadians on June 23. He hit his first professional homer on Thursday and is batting .250 (6-for-24) with a .796 OPS in six Northwest League games. 

MiLB include

The plan all along was for Conine to play in the Northwest League, but he was at the Blue Jays complex in Dunedin, Florida, to sign his contract and complete his testing and physicals. 

"They just figured while I was down there to get a couple of games and get the feel back. Start to hit with wood [again]," Conine said. "I think it was just sort of the plan to get one or two games in before I headed up to Vancouver to meet the team."  

Bryan Lizardo went 4-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored for the Canadians, who totaled a season-high 16 hits. 

Northwest League batting leader Diego Rincones accounted for the Volcanoes' offense with his third homer.

Josh Horton is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @joshhortonMiLB This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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