|Jarrod Parker Gets the Call||Tweet|
|Playing the Field|
|Written by Mike Schmidt|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2012 06:45|
Starting pitching has long been a competitive advantage for the Oakland Athletics. But injuries and offseason transactions dramatically altered the A’s rotation heading into the 2012 campaign. Gone were the sometimes-dominant Gio Gonzalez and the mostly-steady Trevor Cahill, leaving several open spots and a number of questions regarding who would fill them.
Fantasy enthusiasts hoped and assumed that promising young righthander Jarrod Parker, acquired in an offseason deal that saw Cahill sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks, would seize the opportunity to become a core member of the A’s pitching staff this season. Blessed with much more talent, upside and pedigree than fellow Oakland hurlers Tom Milone, Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey, it seemed reasonable to expect Parker to earn a rotation spot during spring training and become a useful fantasy asset right away.
Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way.
Spotty command and inconsistent results on the mound during the spring prevented Parker from breaking camp with the big league club. But after a handful of solid starts at Triple-A Sacramento, the 23-year-old righthander appears poised to join the Oakland rotation and make his inaugural start in the A’s rotation on Wednesday versus the Chicago White Sox.
Fantasy owners should be fairly excited about Parker’s promotion and can count on him as a useful pitcher in keeper formats, AL-only leagues and deep (16 teams and more) mixed leagues right away. He is someone to watch in shallow mixed leagues, but is not worthy of an immediate add due to his lack of experience and uncertain role with the team moving forward this season. Simply stated, there are probably safer options available in those types of formats.
Baseball America ranks Parker as the top overall prospect in the Oakland organization, and he’s deserving of that lofty designation for a number of reasons. His arsenal includes a four-seam fastball that can reach 96 miles per hour, an above-average two-seam fastball that may be a dominant pitch, and a plus slider that has lost a little bit of its luster since he has returned from Tommy John surgery. In addition, Parker has a decent changeup and curveball in his repertoire. Scouts also think highly of his athleticism and delivery on the mound, and they feel like a transition to the majors shouldn’t prove too difficult for the promising pitching prospect.
While nothing about Parker’s minor league numbers suggests he will be a top-flight No. 1 starter and fantasy ace in the future, there is no reason not to think he can be a useful, consistent and universally-owned hurler. The 2007 first-rounder missed the entire 2010 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but recovered nicely and posted solid (though not spectacular) numbers for Arizona’s Double-A affiliate in 2011: 3.79 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings. Parker’s strikeout rate dropped significantly from the one he posted in his 78-inning stint in Double-A in 2009, from 8.50 strikeouts- per-nine innings to 7.71 strikeouts- per-nine innings. However, this could be attributed to the fact he was coming off a serious arm injury. It’s reasonable to think he’ll be a solid source of strikeouts in the majors, as his stuff and profile suggests he is more than capable of missing bats at an above-average clip. However, it will be imperative for Parker to limit the number of walks he issues to MLB hitters. Command and control issues plagued the talented starter at times during spring training. A few rough outings early on could lead to a return trip to Triple-A.
The promotion of Parker stands to benefit the A’s as much as it does fantasy owners; Oakland’s rotation could use the infusion of youthful talent. Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy are proven veterans that can perform well when healthy, but Milone, Ross and Godfrey are all less gifted than Parker and are long-term question marks as starting pitchers in the major leagues. Parker and the injured duo of Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden should join Colon and McCarthy as mainstays of the rotation by the end of 2012, with Milone making some starts if and when one of those aforementioned five is sidelined due to injury or traded to another team. This means fantasy owners should expect Parker to make the most of his call-up and stick in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Assessing the fantasy potential of inexperienced prospects is an extremely difficult task. Projecting statistics for these players is an extremely inexact science, given their lack of a major league track record and considering just how difficult it can be to make the leap from the high minors to the majors. That being said, it’s slightly easier to assess the value of an advanced prospect like Parker. He’s a worthwhile add in most fantasy leagues because of his prospect pedigree, high upside and success in the minors.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 08:54|