BY STEVE KRAH
Conrad Gregor does his best to use baseball’s five physical tools (speed, arm strength, fielding, hitting for average and hitting for power).
As a third baseman, first baseman and left fielder for the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am League, the lefty swinger has played in 72 games for the 2019 season (through Aug. 9) and is hitting .324 with nine home runs, 15 doubles, four triples, 49 runs batted in, 68 runs scored, 61 walks, 34 stolen bases and a .459 on-base percentage.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has amassed 22 multi-hit games with four in a “friendly” against the Cuba National Team and four three-hit games.
Batting No. 3 for manager Brooks Carey, the graduate of Carmel (Ind.) High School (2010) and Vanderbilt UniversityVanderbilt University (2016) went 0-of-3 then 1-for-1 with a double, three runs scored two walks and one stolen base Friday as New Jersey (40-32) beat Sussex County 4-0 and 10-1 at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, N.J., and moved within 5.5 games of the league-leading Miners.
Besides the tools, Gregor also sees the importance of using mental skills, work ethic, mindset, consistency and a desire for excellence.
“It’s what’s between your two ears,” says Gregor of mental skills. “As a pro, you play on a nightly basis. You have to survive the ups and downs of being a hitter in baseball.
“I have to get my body ready to play 140-plus games a year. You have to be a good teammate at all times — even when things aren’t going well for you individually. Have a ‘team at-bat’ — no matter what that may be.”
In middle school, he went with the Indiana Prospects. In high school, he joined the Midland Redskins and helped them to an American Amateur Baseball Congress Connie Mack World Series title in 2009. He played a couple of high school falls with the Kanas City Royals Scout Team.
Eric Lentz was Gregor’s head coach at Carmel High School. They have stayed in contact through the years.
“He’s got a great baseball mind,” says Gregor of Lentz. “I learned a lot from him. He’s about bringing it everyday, keeping the blinders on, doing the little things and playing team baseball to win games.”
“I’ve passed it on to the people I teach.”
During the baseball off-season, Gregor runs Anchor Down Sports Performance in downtown Carmel and many of his clients are junior high, high school and college ballplayers.
“I want to help people the best that I can,” says Gregor, who completed his finance and entrepreneurship degree during fall semesters after beginning his pro baseball career in 2013 and is certified in weightlifting and functional movement systems.
Gregor was selected in the 40th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox, but opted to go to Vanderbilt. He played three seasons for the Commodores (2011-13), hitting .327 with nine homers, 45 doubles, 115 runs batted in, 117 runs scored, 33 stolen bases and a .444 on-base percentage over 186 games.
“It was a great honor to be able to play and learn from one the best-regarded baseball coaches in the sport,” says Gregor of head coach Tim Corbin, who led Vandy to the College World Series championship in 2019 and is to be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January 2020. “He provided me with a lot of useful lessons.
“He helped me become not only a great baseball player, but a great person.”
Picked in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by the Houston Astros, Gregor signed that June then had an unforgettable family moment in 2014 in Davenport, Iowa.
Conrad slugged his first Midwest League home run and his father — Marty — caught the ball. Marty and Megan Gregor had made their way out to a restaurant near right field and Marty was there to collect the souvenir.
Gregor was in the Astros system into 2017 then played 69 games with New Jersey before being picked up with the Boston Red Sox organization at the end of 2017. He played 12 games in he Red Sox chain along with five for the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers and 98 with the Can-Am League’s Rockland (N.Y.) Boulders in 2018.
The Can-Am League all-star hopes to help New Jersey to a league title in 2019 (the regular season ends Sept. 2 and the playoffs conclude Sept. 15) then come back to Carmel to re-charge and then head out again.
Gregor is currently shopping around for a chance to play winter ball in Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.
“I’m at the stage of my career where it’s ‘what have you done for me lately?’ It’s performance-based,” says Gregor. “I’m looking to continue playing.”
Always a righty thrower and lefty batter, Gregor sees advantages in swinging from that side of the plate.
“Being left-handed gives you a head start running to first base and you’re facing a lot of right-handed pitchers so the off-speed pitch is coming into your barrel.”
When teaching hitters, Gregor likes to point to the great left-handed swings — like the sweet one with the high finish used by Ken Griffey Jr. — and encourage his students to use what works best for them.
Conrad Gregor, a graduate of Carmel (Ind.) High School and Vanderbilt University, is playing professional baseball in 2019 with independent New Jersey Jackals. (New Jersey Jackals Photo)
Conrad Gregor, a graduate of Carmel (Ind.) High School and Vanderbilt University, is playing professional baseball in 2019 with independent New Jersey Jackals. Gregor has also played in the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox organizations and owns and operates Anchor Down Sports Performance in Carmel. (New Jersey Jackals Photo)