Josh Conway, P
Age: 23 (4/12/1991)
How acquired:—Drafted in the 4th round in 2012, #134 overall, out of Costal Carolina University. Scouted by Keith Lockhart.
Boise Hawks, Northwest League, Short Season (13 G, 0-1, 1.96 ERA, 36.2 IP, 9 BB, 24 K, 0.93 WHIP)
Prior to Cubs
A two-sport star for Smithsburg High School in Maryland, Conway was a 2nd team Rawlings All-American, earned several local Player of the Year honors, and went 4-0 with a 0.98 ERA as a senior, striking out 52 batters in 35 innings. The Atlanta Braves selected Conway in the 42nd round of the 2009 draft but he headed to Costal Carolina instead. A two-way player his freshman year, he appeared in 19 games as well as serving as the team’s DH with a .274 average. As a sophomore, he appeared in middle relief, a stint as the closer, and finally a starter. Conway ended his sophomore year at 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA (10th best in school history) pitching in 20 games with 12 starts and three saves. That summer he earned Cape Cod League all-star team honors going 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in five starts as he fanned 28 with 10 walks in 28.2 innings. Conway was off a great start in his first nine starts as a junior—4-1, 2.14 ERA, 54.2 IP, 54 K and 1.17 WHIP. After coming out of a game against Liberty, it was determined that Conway had torn his UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Despite the injury, he was still named to the Big South second-team. He signed with the Cubs on June 16 for a reported $280,000.
Unfortunately, most of Conway’s career has been spent either on the disabled list or rehabbing an injury. He didn’t pitch after signing his contract but did report to spring training in 2013 healthy and on track to make his pro debut. Conway had a great spring and was working his way to a spot in Kane County’s rotation, making five starts at extended spring training. Conway’s season ended May 4 during an EST game when he slipped on a wet mound while delivering a pitch and suffered a stress fracture to his pitching elbow. He missed the rest of the season.
After another spring in Mesa, Conway finally made his pro debut for Boise on June 16, tossing three shutout frames with three punchouts. It was the first of 13 straight starts but the Cubs never let the right-hander go more than three innings in any starts. Healthy and able to pitch every 5-7 days, Conway reverted back to his old self, logging 36.2 innings with a 1.96 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP, and .187 BAA. Four times he retired all nine hitters he faced and didn’t allow a run over his final 12 innings. Conway’s fastball sat in the low 90s throughout the season and got plenty of swing-and-miss with his slider.
Despite the setbacks, Conway remained optimistic and showed glimpses of why he was considered one of the top college pitchers before the injuries. Conway will get a chance to prove himself with a full season at South Bend, and with the innings limitations lifted, should by able to throw near 100 innings. If Conway can remain healthy, he has a great shot at moving through the system quickly, and that could be expedited if the Cubs chose to use him out of the bullpen.