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.