Jarrod Parker Deserves a September Call Up

For a prospect who has spent the past four seasons steadily ranked between numbers 29 and 46 on Baseball America’s top-100, the discussion surrounding Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect Jarrod Parker has varied wildly. From Tommy John surgery, to questions surrounding his recovery, the past couple of years has brought more questions than answers about the young right-hander.

In mid-July, I had the opportunity to scout Jarrod Parker in Chattanooga against recent Dodgers call-up Nathan Eovaldi in a battle of mid-90s hurlers. And while Eovaldi burst back onto the prospect scene this season as one of the best starters in the Southern League, Parker was better. Using predominantly fastballs and changeups, Parker dominated the Lookouts allowing only one earned run and two hits over five innings pitched. The outing was impressive enough for me to rank him in the top-15 amongst players I’ve ever had the opportunity to scout.

Video after the jump.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Parker is a plus athlete for the position who combines fluid movements and elite arm action to generate some of the easiest velocity I’ve seen in person. Throughout the outing, Parker worked off of a 92-96 MPH fastball, touching 97 on multiple occasions. The pitch featured arm-side run and a touch of late drop which has definitely contributed to his strong ground-ball rates. Even more impressive was the downward plane he was able to generate for a pitcher without elite height. Describing a pitch as “electric” is not something I do often. When discussing Parker’s fastball, the description definitely fits. However, command of the pitch continues to be a work in progress as his release point was inconsistent and he struggled to release the ball out front in spurts.

To my surprise, the secondary offering Parker turned to most frequently was an 82-85 MPH changeup with heavy drop when kept down in the zone. Once again, his arm action was excellent and not discernible from the fastball making it a weapon Parker was not afraid to double or triple up on. Having read the slider may not be fully back to pre-Tommy John form, I suspect Parker leaned more heavily on the changeup than he otherwise would have. If this is the case, then it is definitely a positive development and enhances his value.

Used sparingly, Parker’s 84 MPH slider featured what appeared to be a foot of horizontal run to his glove side. One particular pitch started on the inside black and appeared to cross home plate on the outer half just inside of the opposite black. The extreme movement took me off guard even though I prefer pitchers who throw sliders with a bit of late cut to induce ground balls. With that said, if reports of his slider not being fully back are true, the addition of downward action would leave Parker’s slider as an out pitch should he begin to feature it more again.

Like the slider, Parker flashed an impressive, but rarely used curveball at 79 MPH with late 12/6 drop. While the rest of Parker’s arsenal screams power, the curve gives him a distinct third speed to work from which will help keep opposing hitters off balance with more frequent use.

In the midst of a fantastic season, the Arizona Diamondbacks are a shoe in for the playoffs and are all but set to face off against the Philadelphia Phillies and their awe inspiring starting staff. As Chris Cwik pointed out recently, the Diamondbacks rank dead last in pitching WAR among playoff teams even though Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy rank as two of the National League’s best pitchers.

Their situation is quite similar to what the Texas Rangers experienced at the trade deadline as a team with a decent rotation, but very little in terms of bullpen depth. And while the Rangers were forced to look outside the organization to Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, the Diamondbacks have two healthy, homegrown talents in Trevor Bauer and Jarrod Parker who have the raw stuff to shorten games to five innings and form a bridge from the staff to David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.

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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

14 Responses to “Jarrod Parker Deserves a September Call Up”

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  1. qudjy1 says:

    He isnt on the 40 man… but im sure that could be rectified reasonably quickly.

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  2. hunterfan says:

    Mike, would there be a reason that the D-Backs would not call up Parker? If so, what would that reason be? You certainly make a strong argument that they should, but obviously if there is an argument to be made, there’s another side to that argument.

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    • qudjy1 says:

      Im not sure what kind of role he would have – starter? Who would he replace – Miley has been OK, Saunders?

      I think you wait until next year, and let him and Skaggs come up not in the middle of a playoff race.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Having missed all of 2010, he’s likely approaching his innings limit. Also, the fastball command could leave him susceptible to the occasional blow up in short spurts. If you notice in the piece, Parker did not use his CB/SL much. I wonder if the confidence in his slider is all the way back from pre-injury as it was supposedly his best offering.

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  3. Dreamin says:

    He’s a stud, but he’s still a little too raw. TJ can do that. He’ll be fine as a mid season callup next year, and he’ll get time at the beginning of next year to solidify his slider and curve.

    And the DBacks have made it pretty clear their young guns are reaching their limits and won’t be making any September starts. The only possible callup would be Bauer, and he’d probably just get some scheduled work out of the pen.

    This month is more about the DBacks finding out what they have in Miley than anything else.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Good points Dreamin. The only thing I’d urge you to consider is that in short spurts, a pitcher who is “raw” can be hidden a bit and doesn’t really need all four pitches. So while Parker may need more seasoning as a starter, he can still be productive in a relief role.

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  4. Amit says:

    I think both Parker and Bauer will be called up to Arizona after the Southern League playoffs are over. But they won’t be used as starters, but more likely as one-inning relievers. That way, they’ll have plenty of time to prepare for their appearances, instead of being tossed into the middle of a tough inning.

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  5. LuckyStrikes says:

    Mike Newman is a welcome addition to FanGraphs.

    DBacks could have a phenomenal rotation over the next five years. Should be exciting to see.
    I’ve seen similar scouting reports, but how do Parker and Jacob Turner compare?

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  6. Sean O'Neill says:

    Parker is a fine prospect, but he’s not the Mobile pitcher I’d want called up if I were a Diamondbacks fan; that honor goes to Tyler Skaggs. While the 40 man roster and innings limit concerns are the same for both guys, the stats are dramatically in Skaggs’ favor…unfortunately, Parker does hold the edge in the one thing that tends to obfuscate everything else: Velocity.

    As far as the 40 man roster and innings limits are concerned, both guys have the same issues; neither is on the 40 man, and both are already above their previous career highs in innings pitched. While Skaggs is much further beyond his prior career high in IP than is Parker (65 IP versus 33.1), Parker’s TJ history complicates the issue. Ultimately, there’s no real edge to either prospect there.

    In terms of the numbers, it’s really a non-contest between the two. This year in AA, Skaggs’ K-rate is 57% higher than Parker’s, while his walk rate is 33% lower. The only statistical edge Parker holds is a higher groundball rate. For their careers, the story is much the same. Skaggs has struck out more batters and walked less at every level (with the exception of High A, where Parker only pitched 19 innings), and for their careers the difference in groundball rate is much less pronounced.

    The main difference in how the two are viewed seems to stem from that fact that while Skaggs operates between 88-92 mph, Parker can touch the high 90s. Looking at the rest of their repertoires beyond the fastball, the two are actually fairly similar: both have a potentially plus breaking pitch (Parker’s slider, Skaggs’ curveball), both of their changeups should be league average at least, and both have a 2nd breaking pitch that could prove MLB caliber (Parker’s curve, Skaggs’ slider). In terms of command, Skaggs holds the edge, particularly in terms of his secondary pitches as he has been commended for well above average command of his curve. Despite all that, Skaggs is typically forecast as a future #3, while Parker gets the much desired “future ace” sticker of approval. Frankly, if it’s not the difference in velocity, I just don’t see where anyone gets the idea that Parker even approaches Skaggs level. To steal a line from Dune…

    I must not fear velocity.
    Velocity is the mind-killer.
    Velocity is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face velocity.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where velocity has gone there will be nothing.
    Only truth will remain.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Good stuff Sean. Replies like this one are one of the big reasons I was afforded the opportunity to post here. In MILB, it’s not just about the numbers. In general, lefties who profile as command/control types (Skaggs profiles as more than just that) tend to post inflated numbers at the minor league level (See Matt Maloney).

      I’m extremely impressed by the numbers Skaggs is posting as a 20-year old, but in a one inning spurt, 88-92 with a solid curveball just doesn’t profile to miss bats like 95+ and a slider. The lack of velocity also allows Skaggs less room for error.

      Remember, this piece isn’t a comparison of Parker/Skaggs. I hope to see Skaggs should Chattanooga and Mobile square off in the Southern League championship.

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      • Sean O'Neill says:

        I would counter that in a one inning spurt, it is entirely possible that Skaggs’ velocity will play up (as you know, analysts have been saying since he was drafted that Skaggs could easily add a few MPH thanks to the projection in his frame); nonetheless, that’s aside the point.

        I am more confident in Skaggs’ stuff, even without a velocity bump from relieving, being effective right now than I would be Parker’s. Parker, despite his raw stuff, has not shown himself to be particularly proficient at missing AA bats. A large part of that comes from the fact he does not seem to have good fastball control, and reports on his secondary stuff has not suggested he commands those particularly well either. Taken to the MLB level, I simply do not believe that Parker has enough command of his pitches to succeed right now. Skaggs on the other hand does command his pitches well, and just as importantly, they are good pitches.

        As you note, Skaggs does not profile as a mere command/control guy. His fastball has plenty decent velocity for a lefty, and is noted for its strong sinking action, and he has a plus breaking pitch that he can command. But to cut myself short (as I’m writing an article on this general topic, so I don’t want to waste all my bullets here), I see a lot more Brandon Beachy than Matt Maloney (or perhaps, more Yovani Gallardo than Homer Bailey) in Tyler Skaggs.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Not saying Skaggs IS Matt Maloney. Just pointing out lefties with command have more success with lesser stuff than righties with even better stuff normally do at the minor league level.

      For me personally, I go off of what I see and the information received from contacts. I’ve seen parker at 96-97 in person and have contacts who have seen him at 99.

      I took some heat for thinking Rubby De La Rosa would have a faster big league learning curve because I simply trusted the raw stuff was impressive enough to play at a high level in spite of command concerns. I feel the same way about Parker.

      Like I said in the chat, I have contacts who absolutely LOVE Skaggs and believe he will be a heck of a major league pitcher. I’d just like the opportunity to scout him for myself before putting such a glowing stamp of approval on him.

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  7. ValueArb says:

    I have to give Towers credit for not rushing either Parker or Skaggs. That stupid two year contract Ken Cheapdrik gave KT gives him a huge incentive to burn every arm this year in a contract extension drive, but he’s resisted that urge and deserves credit for it.

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  8. Tupac says:

    Parker has always to some extent had problems with his command but that was really accentuated early this year given that he was coming off of TJ surgery. The latter part of the season his command significantly improved and as a result his strikeout rate went up and his overall numbers improved. I think his command will continue to improve with time and once it does he has the necessary stuff to become a top of the rotation starter. The thing is the D- Backs have Skaggs and Bauer who also fall under the class so really the whole #1, #2, or #3 starter thing is pointless if your 1-5 starters all possess the talent that they have.

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