Condon emerges as NCAA leader in homers and batting average

By The Associated Press
Posted 3:43PM on Wednesday 29th May 2024 ( 1 month ago )

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia coach Wes Johnson knows it wouldn't be fair to use Charlie Condon's success as a sales pitch for future walk-ons.

After all, no one can expect a player to sign without a scholarship and then lead the nation in hitting and home runs. Condon is different, and Johnson says it's about more than the power the 6-foot-6 sophomore generates with his big swing.

“I think we never confuse Charlie’s mental approach to just anybody with some talent who you’re trying to get to walk on, right?” Johnson said. “It’s like, well, Charlie is special, right? We know the physical talent. But to bring up Charlie to another potential walk-on is almost unfair in my opinion. You better have a special mind to to do what Charlie did from walking on.”

Condon's breakout has earned the Bulldogs the No. 7 seed and a home NCAA regional. Condon's 35 homers are the high mark for any player since Rice's Lance Berkman hit 41 in 1997 and are a record since the BBCOR (bat-ball coefficient restitution) standard for composite bats was established by the NCAA in 2011. Oklahoma State's Pete Incaviglia set the all-time mark with 48 homers in 1985.

Condon's .443 batting average and 1.043 slugging percentage also lead the nation. He ranks among the top candidates to win the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top player and to be the top pick in Major League Baseball's amateur draft on July 14.

Condon hopes to end his college career by leading the Bulldogs to their first College World Series since 2008 and first championship since 1990. He says the team’s success, and his journey as a former walk-on, are lessons in "learning to control what I can control.”

“Just in life and then also in the game of baseball, there’s so many things that are out of my control," he said. “And just getting really good at and controlling the things that I have control over.”

Georgia (39-15) will open on Friday against Army (31-21) in the regional which also includes UNC-Wilmington and Georgia Tech.

Condon was overlooked as a skinny recruit from The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia. His other options included playing football and baseball at Division III Rhodes College in Memphis or the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Following a redshirt season, Condon was named national freshman of the year after hitting .386 with 25 homers, setting the stage for even more success this season.

Johnson, in his first season at Georgia, was the pitching coach for Louisiana State that had current Pittsburgh Pirates rookie right-hander Paul Skenes emerge as the top pick in last year's amateur draft. Johnson previously served as the Minnesota Twins pitching coach and says Condon's mental discipline compares with Skenes and other stars he worked with in the majors.

“The great ones have this ability to expand their mind to uncomfortable levels and accept challenges,” Johnson said. “And he’s got that. You know, Paul Skenes had it, and I go to the guys I had in professional baseball, Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray, Luis Arráez, all those guys, they have this ability to take on more of a challenge."

Freshman Tre Phelps says the national attention hasn't changed Condon's team-first approach.

“Charlie only can have so much success,” Phelps said. “And putting the team success first is only going to make his success shoot to levels he didn’t even know he could go to. And I’m glad to see him handle it in a way as it’s all of us. ... That’s just what makes him a better person and player.”

Condon's 24-game hitting streak ended in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, but not before he was named the SEC player of the year. Condon, now listed at 216 pounds, can play in the outfield and first base. But it is his swing that makes him an intriguing prospect.

Condon's 61 homers in only two seasons broke Georgia's career record previously held by Gordon Beckham, the No. 8 overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in the 2008 MLB draft.

Among other top names in this year's draft and the Golden Spikes Award are Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana from Australia, Florida two-way star Jac Caglianone and Wake Forest right-hander Chase Burns.

“It’s fun to see, obviously,” said Condon of being included in the national discussions. “But you know, at the end of the day if I’m taking care of business on the field, and this team is taking care of business, good things are going to happen to a lot of people in this lineup, whether that be opportunities to play baseball at the next level. All that comes from just playing good baseball the rest of this year.”


AP college sports:

Georgia's Charlie Condon speaks to the media before an NCAA college baseball practice, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Athens, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Georgia's Charlie Condon speaks to the media before an NCAA college baseball practice, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Athens, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Georgia's Charlie Condon speaks to the media before an NCAA college baseball practice, Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Athens, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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