Prospect of the Day: Jarrod Parker, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Jarrod Parker will make his 2012 debut today for the Oakland Athletics, taking on the Chicago White Sox. Command problems prevented Parker from beginning the season in the majors, but he's looked strong in four Triple-A starts and appears ready to help in the majors. Let's take a look.
Parker was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round in 2007, from high school in Norwell, Indiana. The ninth-overall pick, he signed for $2,100,000. His pro debut was a success: 12-5, 3.44 ERA in 24 starts for Low-A South Bend in the Midwest League, with a 117/33 K/BB ratio in 118 innings. Immediately considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game, he made his Double-A debut in 2009 at age 20, but was limited to 16 starts at that level by a sore elbow. Tommy John surgery was eventually required, sidelining him for all of 2010.
Parker came back in 2011 and pitched effectively for Double-A Mobile, going 11-8, 3.79 with a 112/55 K/BB ratio in 131 innings. He made his major league debut in September and won a spot on the post-season roster. Arizona traded him to Oakland as part of the package for Trevor Cahill. Opening 2012 for Triple-A Sacramento, Parker has a 2.18 ERA in 21 innings over four starts, with a 21/6 K/BB and a 2.17 GO/AO ratio.
A 6-1, 195 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, Parker was born November 24, 1988. He's not a huge hulk on the mound, but offers excellent athleticism and premium arm strength with a mid-90s fastball, having recovered all of his pre-surgery velocity. He concentrated on improving his changeup last year with good results. Parker's slider was superb before his injury and still rates as quite strong, although he doesn't use it as much as he used to. He'll throw a curve occasionally, but the fastball/changeup/slider arsenal can be overpowering when his command is on. His two-seamer sinks quite well and he collects plenty of grounders.
Parker's main flaw is occasionally spotty command. If he throws enough strikes, he'll be a number two starter.