After being drafted in the 24th round of the 2018 draft, Connor Curlis joined the Billings Mustangs where he made one start and 15 relief appearances. He found some success in the Pioneer League in limited innings, striking out 33 batters in 25.2 innings to go with a 4.56 ERA (league ERA was 5.06).

When the 2019 season began, Connor Curlis was back in Arizona. He would join the Dayton Dragons in late May, making his first appearance of the year out of the bullpen on May 20th and tossing 0.2 shutout innings. Three days later he entered the rotation and gave up two runs in 4.0 innings and picked up seven strikeouts. The left-handed pitcher rounded out May with a 1-run effort over 5.0 innings against Lansing.

June  began with another 1-run effort over 5.0 innings, but did come with five walks. Following the game he was sent to the Billings roster and skipped a start before returning to the Dragons rotation on the 15th when he allowed a run in 4.1 innings against Great Lakes – but did struggle with the control again as he walked four more hitters. A week late he walked four batters again, this time in 3.0 innings against Lansing. The month concluded against South Bend where Curlis gave up three earned in 3.2 innings. June went down as his worth month of the year – posting a 4.50 ERA in four starts with 15 walks in 16.0 innings while also striking out 17 batters.

With a poor month behind him, Connor Curlis went out on America’s birthday and allowed three runs in 5.0 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Following the start he moved up to make two spot starts for the Daytona Tortugas – and they went well. Over the next two weeks he allowed just one run in 9.1 combined innings before returning to Dayton. The lefty didn’t skip a beat as he gave up just two earned runs in 16.0 innings to finish out the month. Over his 30.1 innings he posted a 1.78 ERA with nine walks and 24 strikeouts.

The month of August began with what was the best start of the year for Connor Curlis. On August 5th he started the second game of a double header and fired 6.0 shutout innings against Lake County, giving up just two hits and he struck out 10 batters. The next three starts went well, too, as he allowed three earned in 17.1 innings with 12 strikeouts. His last two games of the year came out of the bullpen and were a bit of a struggle as he gave up seven earned runs in just 4.0 innings. His ERA was 3.29 over 27.1 innings in August with nine walks and 28 strikeouts.

For all 2019 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Connor Curlis Scouting Report

Position: Left-handed pitcher | B/T: L/L

Height: 6′ 1″ | Weight: 185 lbs | Drafted: 24th round, 2018

Fastball | From a velocity standpoint, the pitch isn’t going to wow anyone. It works in the 86-89 MPH range and tops out at 91.

Change Up | A solid offering that works in the 78-82 MPH range.

Slider | His main breaking ball, working in the upper 70’s. It’s an above-average offering.

Curveball | His second breaking ball works in the low 70’s. It doesn’t show up to often, but it’s a 4th offering to look at.

From a performance standpoint, Connor Curlis got it done in 2019. A sub 3.00 ERA from the left-hander in 83.1 innings across 15 starts and four relief appearances is going to stick out. June was a bit of a struggle for the former Ohio State Buckeye as his control was a problem during the month – but the rest of the season saw much better control, and low ERA numbers.

When it comes to the scouting reports, pretty much all of the people I spoke with during the season felt that Curlis was a future reliever – the fastball velocity just wasn’t enough as a starter to work in the Major Leagues. As a reliever it’s possible that it could pick up a few ticks and could work a little better, while also focusing on one or two of the offspeed offerings to go with it.

As a left-handed pitcher he’s struggled against left-handed hitters, at least by comparison to how he’s pitched to right-handed hitters. In 2018 his OPS against righties was .558 compared to .815 against lefties. In 2019 the splits weren’t quite as dramatic, but right-handed hitters had a .666 OPS against him, while lefties were nearly 100 points better, coming in with a .763 mark against him.

With a fastball that works in the upper 80’s most of the time, Connor Curlis is going to have to go out and prove he can succeed at each step of the way. Fair or unfair, in the game today that’s just how it’s going to be – even as a lefty. So far that’s worked out for him as he’s gotten results. The secondary stuff is going to need to become a little more consistent, but there’s a solid variety of useful offerings there.

Interesting Stat on Connor Curlis

He only made four appearances as a reliever on the season, but hitters took advantage on the days in which that happened. They posted an .880 OPS against him in those four games. As a starter he held opponents to a .246/.318/.356 line – good for a .674 OPS against.

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5 Responses

  1. Big Ed

    Curlis sounds like a poor man’s Packy Naughton, and Naughton likely has a low ceiling himself. From the one video that I saw, Curlis has room to refine his delivery a bit and get a couple more MPHs on his fastball, so maybe he can make it as a reliever.

    Soft-tossing lefties like Jamie Moyer and the older Tommy John (and Chris Welsh) may become the new knuckleballers. MLB hitters are so keyed up to hitting 98 MPH fastballs that a slop-throwing lefty with great command may well give them fits.

    My theory on pitchers is to keep promoting them as long as they get guys out.

    • Doug Gray

      It belongs in tomorrows comments section lol – I’ve got a post scheduled around it for the morning.

      • Oldtimer

        Gotcha. You can delete this reference then. PS I disagree with their ranking of Hunter Greene. His future is uncertain but not overrated. If healthy, he will be a dandy SP.

  2. MK

    For those people who like pitching rather than just hard throwing, when Conner is on he pitches, sets up hitters and then gets them with his slider. Like most at his stage of development consistency is the next step. I actually believe he would be more effective as a starter as he works a game plan. He is a left handed Bronson Arroyo.