Been up for a few days; as a reserve, I like him more as an occasional starter than as a guy who comes off the bench during the game. He doesn’t profile as a pinch-hitter, as he hasn’t hit for average (career minor league BA .261, career AAA BA .248) but compensates with secondary skills (.343 career OBP, .467 career SLG). Basically, he’s not the guy you want hitting with a runner on second and two out.
Conrad was drafted by the Astros out of Arizona State in 2001. The Astros assigned him to low-A ball, and then regular A the next year; he was really too advanced for the level. He went up the system at the normal rate, generally putting up numbers fitting the profile above — low batting averages combined with power, an unusual combination for a middle infielder. In 2006, he led the minor leagues in extra-base hits, slugging .534 thanks to 40 doubles and 24 homers; the Astros decided they didn’t need any of that and didn’t so much as give him a callup. Nor did they need him in 2007 when their starting second baseman (admittedly a future Hall of Famer) slugged .381, their starting third baseman slugged .384, and their starting shortstop slugged .318.
Anyway, after that Conrad went to where guys whose major league franchises don’t appreciate them go — Oakland. He slugged .508 in AAA, but didn’t hit well in a callup and the A’s let him go. The Braves signed him, and he got off to a hot start in Gwinnett; for awhile, he was the top home run hitter in the organization outside Myrtle Beach. He cooled off a bit, but got the callup anyway when Kelly Johnson went on the DL… Has a bad glove reputation, but I don’t know how justified that is. A player of his offensive type (low-average slugger) will always get a bad defensive rep unless he’s a catcher or really, obviously good. He played a fair amount of shortstop in Gwinnett, and in Sacramento last season, after rarely playing the position before. He has a strong record as a base stealer, 110 successful, 34 caught for his career, 51 and 14 in AAA.