Charlie Condon can’t help but reflect on the last three years of his baseball career. He is one of the best hitters in college baseball, but three years ago, he wasn’t sure what his future would look like after high school.
Condon wasn’t a highly recruited player out of the Georgia high school ranks in 2021. He accepted a preferred walk-on spot at the University of Georgia, motivated to earn a roster spot and playing time for the Bulldogs.
Condon performed well during the fall season of his freshman year to gain some attention. But he redshirted his first year on campus to ease the transition to the college game and to refine his skills.
The time to learn and develop paid off. After thriving in the Northwoods League in the summer of 2022, Condon was phenomenal as a redshirt freshman last season. He showed an advanced hit tool with impressive raw power to overwhelm opposing pitchers.
College baseball took notice of Condon’s success. So did professional scouts. Now, Condon enters this spring as a potential top-10 pick in the 2024 MLB draft.
“A big thing for me is remembering where I came from,” Condon said. “I was in a completely different situation three years ago, coming out of high school and not being a heavily recruited guy. It’s a little more difficult to play the underdog role this season, but that is something I’m still focusing on. I just want to continue to prove people wrong, have a strong season, and do what I can to help Georgia get back to the playoffs, which is where we are headed.”
Condon gained valuable experience in the Northwoods League after redshirting his first year in 2022. It allowed him to gain live at-bats against quality pitchers daily. The playing time benefited Condon, as he hit .286 with 18 doubles, seven home runs, and 68 RBIs in 248 at-bats.
He then excelled last spring, posting a .386 with 10 doubles, 25 home runs and 67 RBIs in 210 at-bats. He also showed notable plate discipline with 45 strikeouts and 33 walks.
“It was awesome to see the work pay off,” Condon said. “You never like to consider yourself a finished product because there are plenty of things I am working on and trying to get better at. It was good to know the work I’ve put in is going towards a productive output.”
Condon is a 6-foot-6, 211-pound right-handed hitter with an advanced skill set at the plate. His short, compact swing allows him to cover the plate and hit for average and power.
Condon is a mature hitter who understands the strike zone and hits for above-average power. He profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter at the next level.
“One of the things I like to take pride in is my ability to handle the bat and not just for power,” Condon said. “Some guys have the big power tool and can hit home runs in big spots, but that’ll come with some strikeouts. I pride myself on being a guy who can handle the bat in a two-strike situation, have competitive at-bats and be a tough out.”
During his historic freshman season, Condon bounced around the diamond, playing 29 games at first base, 21 games in right field and six games in left field.
The defensive position versatility will benefit Condon moving forward. He projects best in a corner outfield spot or first base but has gained experience at other positions this fall.
“A lot of what I’ve worked on this fall is position versatility,” Condon said. “I’ve moved around in the field a lot. I have gotten really comfortable in both corner outfield spots and corner infield spots. I came in primarily as a first baseman. Now I feel good at the corners. I’ve also played some center field. Being able to be a moving piece to help the team out is important for me.”
It’s a new and exciting era for Georgia baseball. After posting a 29-27 record and missing the NCAA Tournament last season, Georgia made a coaching change, hiring highly-regarded pitching coach Wes Johnson as its new head coach.
Johnson brings a wealth of experience, most recently serving one year as the pitching coach for the national champion LSU Tigers. He is one of the best pitching coaches in baseball. Besides LSU, Johnson’s experience includes working as a pitching coach for Mississippi State (2016), Arkansas (2017-18) and the Minnesota Twins (2019-22).
Condon raves about Johnson and the new coaching staff at Georgia. He believes the Bulldogs have the pieces necessary to return to the NCAA Tournament. He also feels they could make a run at their first College World Series appearance since 2008.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about this group,” Condon said. “The new coaching staff has brought in a brand-new culture. It’s a big opportunity to surprise some who may not view Georgia as a contender. We are definitely going to get this program back where it deserves to be in the playoffs and making runs (at the CWS) in Omaha. We are looking forward to it.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for nine years. He has interviewed 518 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.