The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) is pleased to announce today that Jamestown Jammers catcher Christ Conley (Canisius) has been named the 2017 PGCBL Player of the Year, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
Conley returned to Jamestown for a second stint in the PGCBL after earning All-Star and Second-Team All-League accolades with the Jammers in 2016. He one-upped last year’s outstanding performance by garnering highest honor doled out by the league to a batter, while breaking some records along the way.
“It’s an honor to win this award and it’s something I wasn’t expecting,” Conley said. “I don’t like to think too much about awards from a personal standpoint; the main goal for every team is to win a championship. For a team to make it to a championship you’re going to have some good teammates and it makes it easier to play when you’re surrounded by other guys who are doing well.”
“Christ is an on-base machine and he is mature beyond his years,” stated Jeff Kunion, president of the PGCBL. “He doesn't waste at-bats and he controls the game from behind the plate. I’m looking forward to watching him play for an MLB organization next summer."
Conley amassed one of the most impressive slash lines in league history in 41 regular-season games played in a Jamestown uniform this season. He ranked second among qualified batsmen with a .382 average (47-for-123) while leading the entire PGCBL with a .582 on-base percentage and a .610 slugging percentage – he was the only qualified batter in the circuit with an on-base percentage above .500 and a slugging percentage above .600. In terms of league history, Conley shattered the previous record for on-base percentage, which was set by 2014 Player of the Year Josh Gardiner (.543). His slugging percentage is the third highest all-time and his batting average ranks seventh.
Bolstering Conley’s numbers at the dish was his record-setting patience. In 190 total plate appearances over the course of the regular season, the rising senior from Canisius College drew 51 walks – breaking the previous league mark by eight – versus only 20 strikeouts. Although he wasn’t the fleetest of foot in the Jamestown lineup, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound backstop found a home batting lead-off due to his uncanny ability to reach base safely. He did so in 40-of-41 games, with the lone exception coming on June 24, when he went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Derby, N.Y., native, however, was not only able to earn a plethora of free passes from opposing pitchers, but he also flexed his muscles and displayed tremendous pop in his bat. Conley registered 13 doubles and launched five home runs, ranking among the top five in the league in both categories.
For the second year in a row, Conley started for the West Division in the annual PGCBL All-Star Game. He singled to lead-off the top of the first inning and drove in a run with an RBI grounder in the third. He was also recognized as the Week 1 Player of the Week, a prelude to the incredible season he would go on to record. Over the course of his two seasons as a Jammer, he amassed a combined 85 hits, including 20 doubles and eight homers, to go along with 69 runs, 52 RBIs and a whopping 93 walks.
“I am so proud of Christ,” Jamestown head coach Anthony Barone said. “He has been a mainstay in our lineup over the past two seasons. He is a winner and always puts the team first. I’m glad he can enjoy this award, being recognized as the most valuable player in the PGCBL. His numbers speak for themselves, along with the fact that he was the backbone on a first-place team.”
Barone added, "He will get his chance at professional baseball and he proved himself these past two seasons. He was the head of the class this season in one of the premier leagues in the country.”
According to Conley, the decision to return to Jamestown in 2017 was an easy one. Not only is Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park a short drive from his hometown, he noted that the Jammers run a first-class organization and that the competition in the PGCBL provides an invaluable experience on the diamond.
"It's a great community with great fans," Conley said. "We are treated like a pro ball team and that makes the summer experience that much better."
"It's a very well-run league and I'm lucky to have been a part of it and the Jammers organization for the last two seasons" he added. "This league has good competition. To come here for the summer and be successful can help give you confidence going back to school for the spring season."
PGCBL Player of the Year Award Winners
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