Kyle Parker has a simple approach to hitting. The 24-year-old Colorado Rockies prospect likes to hunt fastballs, and when he gets one, he takes a healthy rip. Parker has power. He hit 23 bombs in Tulsa last year, and he’ll hit plenty more at Coors Field if he can fine-tune his plate discipline. The former college quarterback isn’t a hacker, but his approach needs honing.
Drafted 26th overall in 2010 out of Clemson University, Parker projects as a middle-of-the-order bat in either a corner outfield position or at first base. He‘s coming off a .288/.345/.492 performance in Double-A, and could easily hopscotch from Triple-A Colorado Springs to Denver by midseason. Parker discussed his game earlier this week.
Parker on his weapon of choice: “Shoot, I swing an Old Hickory bat. They make me my own model. It’s 34 [inches] 32-and-a-half [ounces] and cupped on the end. I’m not too picky, though. A lot of guys are pretty selective on their bats, but I mostly just grab something, go up there, and let it ride.
“It’s the only bat I’ve really swung since I’ve been in pro ball, but I don’t think it makes that much difference. My views on hitting are quite simple, all the way from mechanics to mind set to the kind of bat you swing. Basically, there are guys who know how to hit, so they’re going to hit. If you can hit a baseball, it doesn’t really matter what you’re swinging.”
On bat speed and approach: “A lot of bat speed is… you know, it’s tough to explain. I’m blessed with a lot of it. Being capable of swinging hard is kind of a natural thing. But I am in the weight room a lot, working out and trying to get stronger. I obviously work on my swing, which factors into your bat speed and what kind of power you have.
“I would consider myself a fastball hitter. I need to be ready to hit a first fastball, because that’s the pitch I hit the best. I pride myself on being able to be on the fastball, but depending on the pitcher, you might have to change your approach. Guys are throwing cutters and off-speed — pitches other than fastballs — in different counts. You have to be capable of making adjustments.
“You need to have a plan from the get-go. If you go up there just hacking — not thinking about what you’re doing — you’re going to get yourself in trouble. Recognizing pitches you’re capable of hitting is definitely a big attribute to have. I work on that constantly. I don’t want to go up there and get myself out. Recognizing which pitches I can handle — which ones I can drive — is huge for me.”
On being labeled a power hitter: “When you get labeled as something, that obviously speaks to your strengths. But you need to work on your game. For me, that’s hitting for average, having better at bats, and cutting down on my strikeouts. I need to do those things without losing what I’ve worked for.
“I don’t shy away from it. I’m glad people say that about me, but I want to improve to where they say, ’He can hit for power, but he’s also a great hitter with a good approach.’”
On his strikeout and walk rates: “Shoot, I don’t really know what to say about that. Every time I go up there, I want to compete and know what I‘m doing. Obviously, you want to make strides; you want to improve. I’m going to continue to work hard this spring, taking what I’ve learned over the past three years and try to get better.
“Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in any sport. A lot of it is mental. When you go to the plate, the biggest thing is to eliminate the negatives. You don’t want to be second-guessing yourself. You have to believe that what you’re trying to do is going to be successful. You need to be confident in the idea that if a pitch is out of the strike zone, you’re going to let it go. You also can’t worry about striking out. Honestly, you need to trust your ability and your approach. I know I can hit, and I know I’m going to hit.”
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