BLUF: Potential for two plus-plus pitches and well-rounded game could make him a number two starter.
The Player: Jarrod Parker (RHP, Oakland Athletics) – First round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2007. Consistently rated as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball since that time. Posted 3.44 ERA in 24 starts with South Bend in his pro debut (2008) at 19-years old. Allowed just 113 hits in 117.2 innings, walking 33 and striking out 117. Dominated in four starts with High-A Visalia in 2009, posting a 0.95 ERA and 0.84 WHIP before promotion to Double-A. Finished Double-A debut at 20-years old with a 3.68 ERA in 16 starts, allowing about a hit per inning and striking out about the same. Missed entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Returned to Double-A in 2011 and psted a 3.79 ERA in 26 starts. Allowed only 112 hits and 55 walks in 130.2 innings, striking out 112. Traded to Oakland as part of the Trevor Cahill trade over the off-season. Leaves Triple-A Sacramento with a 2.18 ERA after four starts.
Basis of Report: Personal Observation, Industry Contacts
Body (6-1, 195): Smaller right-hander without the physicality of many power pitchers. Wiry strength and above-average athleticism make up for size. Already undergone Tommy John surgery and there are some durability concerns. Little room to add significant mass but could thicken up in the lower half some.
Delivery/Mechanics: Simple, straight forward delivery. Very quiet through the windup, remains on balance well and uses lower half to drive to plate. Quick arm that keeps up with his body. Stays on line to the plate consistently. Employs both leg kick and slide step out of stretch and remains in sync with both. No major red flags or cringe-worthy pieces to the delivery. Follows through well, extending fully out front. Finishes in solid fielding position with balance and ability to get off the mound.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 97, Low – 90, Average – 92-94, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 97, Low 91, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Throws both a two-seam and four-seam FB. Two-seam has plus-plus sink and is difficult to square up or lift. Four-seam has explosive life in the strike zone and gets on hitters quickly. Both pitches can be difficult to square. Grade – 70/70
Overall Fastball: Velocity is still coming back after surgery. Flashes true plus-plus velocity some innings and will come down to the plus range in other innings. Four-seam fastball can be blown by hitters and should sit with plus to plus-plus velocity. Two-seam fastball can miss bats and get out of at-bats quickly with weak contact. Both pitches are outstanding offerings. Grade – 60/70
Slider (SL): Pre-injury, SL was a 60-70 pitch with good vertical movement and tight, deceptive spin. Showed little feel for it much of last year but started to get it back late in the year and showed well with it in spring training. Still a potential 70 pitch with added consistency and repetition. Can miss bats at 82-84 mph and gives him a second outstanding offering. Grade – 50/70
Change-up (CH): Intermittent feel for the CH. Tends to overthrow, indicating a lack of trust in the grip. Will show good arm speed and the same slot as FB. At best, pitch shows good velocity differential from FB (81-84 mph). Relies on drop in velocity rather than movement. Potential average pitch that can help round arsenal. Grade – 30/50
Control: Simple, easy mechanics lend well to strike throwing. Did not struggle to throw strikes like some surgery survivors. Came back filling the zone with both fastballs. Projects for plenty of continued control down the line. Needs to improve control of both SL and CH, though he throws strikes with both. Grade – 60/70
Command: Began improving command before surgery. Continued to make strides in return from surgery, locating his four-seam fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone, and showing the ability to go out of the zone when he wanted. Can struggle commanding two-seam FB because of movement. Mechanical simplicity and work ethic suggest plus big league command in his future. May never paint with CH, but should be able to develop above-average to plus command of SL. Grade – 40/60
Summation: With his improvements this spring and his ability to get back to pre-surgery form, Parker has legitimate number two starter potential. Two potential plus-plus pitches that can both miss bats and the projection for plus command could allow him to dominate at the big league level upon reaching maturity. Calm and cool on the mound, rarely rattled. Has improved smaller parts of game such as holding runners, pitch sequencing, making adjustments and fielding his position. Should be a well-rounded pitcher with few weaknesses.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Injury history mixed with proximity to big leagues and overall arsenal leaves him with moderate risk.
Future: The A’s will bring Parker up for his American League debut on Wednesday. Potential number two starter down the line he will need some time to adjust and adapt his game to the big league level. Final polishing of his command and CH will be pivotal to his success in the big leagues. Could reach ceiling over the next couple of years and enjoy a run of sustained success toward the front of Oakland’s rotation.