Jarrod Parker is a pitcher that needed talking about prior to his trade to Oakland. Now that he will be calling a friendlier ballpark home, things get even more intriguing. Selected ninth overall in 2007, Parker was viewed among the top pitching prospects in the game. He made his Major League debut in 2011, something that may have come at least a year earlier had he not missed all of the 2010 campaign due to Tommy John surgery.
He impressed in his one start for the Diamondbacks by allowing four hits and one walk, striking out one, over 5.2 shutout innings. Obviously no one is about to draw conclusions off of one performance, but it was the culmination in what was an impressive return to the mound.
Parker spent the bulk of the ’11 campaign at Double-A where he posted a 3.79 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 130.2 IP. The numbers were based on a realistic .288 BABIP. So far everything seems normal, but there are reasons to think that he can significantly improve on that performance. These three numbers are the important ones:
- 69.6% strand rate
- 7.71 K/9
- 3.79 BB/9
Generally a pitcher has trouble with his control in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. That’s not to say that he is going to suddenly become a 2.5 BB/9 pitcher, considering that he had posted a 3.91 BB/9 in 78.1 innings at Double-A prior to the injury. That said, there is the potential that his control takes a significant step forward this season, regardless of the level or the stadium he calls home.
Over his final two full months at Double-A Parker posted BB/9s of 2.52 and 3.10. That shows that he started to figure it out as the season went on. Let’s think that a 3.00 BB/9 is possible.
The strikeout rate also has the potential to improve. Prior to the injury he showed the potential to strikeout a batter per inning, including an 8.5 K/9 at Double-A in ’09. To see him improve after a full season back under his belt would not be a major surprise, especially with a fastball that works in the 90s.
Baseball America, who had ranked him as the Diamondbacks fourth best prospect prior to the trade, said this about Parker:
“His easy delivery returned after his elbow reconstruction and scouts noticed a more mature pitcher on the mound.”
That’s exactly what fantasy owners want to hear. Generally moving to the AL would be a detriment to a starting pitcher, though I wouldn’t consider it a definite negative for Parker. Oakland’s home stadium tends to improve pitcher’s numbers, as you can see it across the board in the A’s staff in 2011. As a team the A’s had a 3.18 ERA at home vs. a 4.26 mark on the road.
When you couple the home stadium in with the expected improvement in control and strikeouts, things are shaping up nicely.
Given the state of the A’s you would think Parker will have every opportunity to break camp with the team and open the season in the rotation. With the upside that he has, that makes him well worth targeting at the tail end of all fantasy drafts. He is far from a sure thing, but the risk is well worth the potential reward.
What are your thoughts of Parker? How good do you think he will be in 2012? Is he a pitcher you have on your radar?
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