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Swing and miss: how everybody underestimated Charlie Condon

Never has everybody at every level been so wrong about a baseball prospect, as Charlie Condon lights up the 2024 MLB Draft boards.

Swing and miss: how everybody underestimated Charlie Condon

Paul Fletcher had his curiosity piqued by a fellow coach from Marietta, Georgia’s 6-4-3 DP Athletics travel ball program who approached him, saying, “I’ve got this kid, and I think he can hit. What do you think?”

Intrigued, Fletcher headed over to the field to watch 17-year-old Charlie Condon. He witnessed Condon hit a home run, rocket a line-drive out off a solid pitcher, and belt a double off the center-field wall. It was impressive, so Fletcher spent the next few weeks observing Condon.

What he found was no fluke. Condon, a lanky 6’5” teenager overlooked by the scouting world, was consistently crushing baseballs.

Fast forward to today, and Charlie Condon is no longer an unknown. At 21, he’s a standout prospect. This year at the University of Georgia, he won both the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award, dominating the NCAA with 37 home runs; the most in 25 years; and a stellar 1.565 OPS in the SEC. His achievements put him in the conversation for the top spot in the upcoming MLB Draft.

“You look at Charlie,” says Georgia coach Wes Johnson, “and just go, ‘Wow, man.’”

Condon’s rise is a tale of missed opportunities and eventual triumph. High school accolades aside, he went unnoticed by major league scouts and top college programs alike. Even within his local travel ball program, he was miscast on a lesser team.

Fletcher made calls to big-name colleges, but the response was the same: a polite but firm no. Covid had backlogged the D1 baseball system, so Condon’s only shot was as a walk-on at his beloved University of Georgia.

Accepted academically on his own merits, Condon enrolled at Georgia with the hope of making the baseball team. Scott Stricklin, then Georgia’s head coach, recalls the call from Fletcher: “He’s physical, maybe 6-foot-5, and he’s got some tools, and I think he can help you.”

Condon walked on, redshirted his freshman year, and spent the next year transforming himself. He put on muscle, matured, and honed his skills, eventually earning a scholarship after a solid performance in the Northwoods League.

Condon’s humility and work ethic stood out. Despite being courted by other programs after Stricklin’s departure, he stayed loyal to Georgia, adapting to new roles under Coach Johnson and improving his draft prospects.

The scouts now rave about Condon’s versatility and powerful bat. His historic season has vaulted him to the top of draft boards, likely earning him millions in signing bonuses. Reflecting on his journey, Condon’s words resonate: “I always knew I was going to be a late bloomer. I just had to believe in myself.”

Charlie Condon’s time has arrived. Everyone in baseball now knows his name, but the remarkable journey that brought him here is just beginning.