Jarrod Parker: The Oakland A's Next Big Thing?
The A's latest rookie sensation; Jarrod Parker got the start against the Blue Jays on Tuesday and produced how you would think any rookie pitcher would perform in his first appearance back at home after a great outing in Boston: mediocre. He lasted seven innings and threw 105 pitches (56 of which were strikes) and handed out five walks, struck out three and gave up four hits, including a two-run homer to Kelly Johnson in the top of the third.
Is this what we can expect from Parker? Shaky starts and the random great game here and there? No. Parker is better than that.
Billy Beane would not give up Trevor Cahill for a no-name, no prospect player. If you recall Parker was part of the trade that sent Cahill to Arizona and brought him and Ryan Cook to Oakland.
To understand Parker's future with the A's, you have to first start with looking at his past. Parker was plucked straight out of high school and was the ninth overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. His record as a senior was unbelievable: He was 12-0 with an 0.10 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 70 innings. At the plate he wasn't to shabby either as he hit .481 with nine homers. Lastly he was named Mr. Indiana Baseball and played for the U.S. junior national team.
Not bad for an 18-year-old kid.
As with most stories of baseball lore, there was a moment of futility. In 2009, Parker underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season. Most would consider this a draft bust for the Diamondbacks; however, he came into the 2010 season as the #31 prospect in the country, and not even a Tommy John surgery could hold back this kid.
While on the sideline, Parker studied hitters, fine-tuned his mechanics and worked on the mental side of pitching. When he was finally able to pitch again, his normal flare wasn't there. So he went back to studying and learning the game and eventually brought it all back enough to get his career going in the 2011 season and finished 11-8 with a 3.79 ERA at Double-A Mobile.
Now, why is he the next big thing? He's not scared. He's been through a lot in his young career and is ready to make a splash. Most pitchers come into the league with a fear of facing better batters, longer outings and a really, really long season that could bring on career-ending injuries. He's been there. had the surgeries. He's ready to go. He's getting his control back, and his mound presence and command are coming back to full swing. Jarrod Parker is a young man with a bright future and no fear—that makes him a very dangerous man.
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