Any time a player is taken in Round 26 of the baseball draft he is a long-shot to make the Majors. Not only did Manny Parra beat the odds to pitch in the Majors, he did it after overcoming injuries that could have derailed his career as well.
Parra has now completed a full season with the Brewers and will look to establish himself as a very good big league pitcher in 2009. Parra will need to get stronger, both mentally and physically, if he plans on taking that next step.
Parra started the season strong and looked like he was going to be a star. He struck out a season-high nine batters to run his record to 9-2 on July 20. The lefty was showing a great fastball and looked like he could develop into a rotation ace in the future.
Parra hit the proverbial "rookie wall" and simply ran out of gas at the end of the season. He finished the season 1-6, and looked completely drained of energy during every start at the end of last year.
The low point of his season came on a start in Cincinnati on August 4. After giving up six runs in six innings, Parra was lifted and was going to head back to the showers. Prince Fielder took exception to Parra leaving and words were exchanged. Fielder then lunged at Parra, shoving him against the dugout wall. Several teammates needed to separate the two. Parra never fully recovered from the incident and finished the season with a 10-8 record and a 4.39 ERA.
It is clear to see that Parra has electric stuff. He has recently said that he learned the importance of changing speeds of his pitches from CC Sabathia. If Parra can indeed adjust the velocity on all his pitches, he will be able to raise his strikeout total and lower the number of balls put in play off of him.
Parra's should continue to develop as well solely based on the fact of pitching to Jason Kendall. Kendall's presence last year was as important to Parra as any pitcher in the Brewers' rotation. Kendall is a smart catcher and will put Parra in the position to be successful more times than not.
With almost 200 innings under his belt in the Majors, Parra should be ready to pitch a full season with minimal signs of fatigue. He should easily make 30 starts and come close to 200 innings pitched. I expect an improvement on his 10 victories last season and his ERA should drop up to a half a run.
Along with Yovani Gallardo and Jeremy Jeffress, Parra will make up a trio of young, stud pitchers for the Brewers for the next several seasons. Becoming a smarter pitcher and avoiding the injury bug will be vital to his success. If those things happen, Parra may turn out to be the ace of the Brewers' rotation.
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