Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Diamondbacks pitching prospect Jarrod Parker awaits the call to Arizona.
A high school pitcher from Norwell, Indiana, Parker was drafted in the first round in 2007, ninth overall. He made his pro debut in the Midwest League in 2008, going 12-5, 3.44 with a 117/33 K/BB ratio in 118 innings for South Bend. His performance confirmed his draft status as one of the top young right-handers in the game. He began 2009 with High-A Visalia but earned a rapid promotion after posting a 0.95 ERA in four starts, moving up to Mobile in the Double-A Southern League. He held his own against older competition, but was hampered by elbow problems.
Tommy John surgery was eventually required, and Parker missed all of 2010 rehabbing. He came back in 2011 at full strength and had a fine year for Mobile, going 11-8, 3.79 with a 112/55 K/BB in 131 innings, allowing 112 hits with a 1.63 GO/AO. The numbers this year were solid rather than spectacular, but scouting reports have been glowing. Rumors that he would be promoted to Arizona for September haven't materialized yet, but we should definitely see him sometime next year.
Parker is 22 years old, turning 23 in November. Listed at 6-1, 195 pounds, he's put on about 15 pounds of muscle and strength since high school. His key pitch is a hard sinking fastball, working at 92-95 and hitting 96-97 at its best. He's lost no velocity since the surgery, although he's still working on command refinements.
His slider was his out-pitch pre-surgery. Scouting reports indicate that he's not throwing it as much as he used to, but it still rates as a plus pitch. His changeup has improved a great deal, ranking plus at its best, and he'll mix in some curves on occasion, giving him four pitches to work with. He's especially tough on right-handed hitters, holding them to a .209 average with just two homers this year.
Parker has the stuff to be a number two starter if his command is there. With a year of good health and solid pitching under his belt, expect to hear a lot about him heading into Spring Training, 2012.