Jarrod Parker Debuts For Diamondbacks

Lost in the shuffle of Tuesday night’s historic comeback by the Arizona Diamondbacks was the major-league debut of D-Backs prized prospect, Jarrod Parker. A top-10 selection in the 2007 draft, Parker missed the entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Despite the injury, Marc Hulet ranked him as the No. 1 prospect in Arizona’s system prior to the season, saying he might be major-league ready by the end of 2011.

During the summer Mike Newman — our other prospect guru — had the opportunity to scout Parker. In his write-up, Newman said Parker’s fastball sat 92 mph to 96 mph with the ability to hit higher velocity, on occasion. As far as secondary options, Parker relied on his changeup more than his previously rated plus-slider, perhaps as a byproduct of his continued recovery. Like Hulet, Newman thought the 22-year-old Parker was ready for MLB action this year. With 5.2 innings of shutout ball on Tuesday, Parker looked ready—  even though his debut was not Strasburg- or Moore-esque.

After missing the 2010 season, Parker’s workload is being closely monitored. Because he is basically at the end of his pitch and innings limits, he threw just 73 pitches against the Dodgers. Meanwhile, even in the small sample size, we saw exactly what Mike and Mark were talking about.

True to the scouting report, Parker averaged 92 mph to 93 mph with his fastball and maxed out near 96 mph. Also true to the report, his changeup was his secondary offering. Of the 20 non-fastballs he threw, 11 were changeups, five were sliders and four were curveballs. With the changeup, he generated eight strikes — including two swings and misses. Disguised with fastball arm-action, Parker’s changeup came in at an average of 12 mph less than his fastball.

Although we are talking about a relatively small number of pitches, I was intrigued by the off-speed pitch; particularly how Parker used it. The changeup is generally used as a neutralizer against batters of the opposite hand. Shawn Marcum — among others — has drastically reduced his platoon splits with an effective changeup. In his debut, Parker actually used the change more against right-handed batters than he did against lefties. And nearly all of his secondary pitches were thrown against righties — including all of his sliders and curveballs.

A 73-pitch outing in late September generally means little, especially for an Arizona team focused on the playoffs. On the other hand, for a team on the rise, Parker looks like a fantastic addition to a young, talented rotation led by Ian Kennedy and Dan Hudson. In addition to his stuff, Parker executed a sound game plan and looked like more like pitcher than simply a hard-thrower. While his career might have temporarily been derailed by injury, Parker’s future as a front-line starter appears to be back on track.

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Tommy Rancel also writes for Bloomberg Sports and ESPNFlorida.com. Follow on twitter @TRancel

6 Responses to “Jarrod Parker Debuts For Diamondbacks”

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  1. BaseballDudeNYC says:

    What do you expect for him next year? Think he cracks the D-Backs rotation?

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  2. CircleChange11 says:

    Parker actually used the change more against right-handed batters than he did against lefties.

    That is interesting. Some might call that Backing Pitchwards.

    Makes ya wonder who is calling the pitches.

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    • Bill in 2009 says:

      Britton, Matusz, Arietta, Tillman, Berken, Hernandez, Hobgood, if even half of these guys pan out, the Birds should be in good shape.

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  3. Rorschach90 says:

    Kennedy, Hudson, Parker, Bauer, Skaggs… my God. Not to mention guys like Collmenter, Miley, and #7 pick Archie Bradley. Even if only half these guys pan out, the D-Backs should be in good shape.

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  4. john says:

    Also impressive was the way the changeup was moving. He threw one to Barajas that looked on track to hit Montero on the face, and broke down to almost bite Barajas’ back ankle. As a Diamondbacks fan, I am very very excited about the future of this rotation with Parker near the top.

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  5. Sonny says:

    This kid has some electric stuff! I was highly impressed with his poise and was a beast on the mound. I know he is young, but to be quite honest, hope he gets a spot on the 25 man roster!

    This kid could be huge in big innings….I know he doenst have experience, but who really does on this team? Saunders? If anything, they could use him for late innings…

    I would rather see him come out of the BP than an Owings or Duke…just my thoughts…

    We have some studs in our Farm that will make this rotation and BP better than it is this year! Exciting times for AZ fans….

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