Mar. 8, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Jarrod Parker (74) during the first inning during a spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
Every Thursday, Swingin’ A’s will unveil a top Oakland A’s prospect. Starting from number 10 and finishing with number 1, be sure to stop by every Thursday to see who makes the list of the Top 10 Oakland A’s prospects. We continue our countdown with No.2 on our list, pitcher Jarrod Parker. Parker was acquired this offseason in the trade that sent pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the A’s have their apparent struggles on offense, the team does know how to evaluate their own pitching talent. The A’s have turned their focus to acquiring offensive players in recent draft years, but the team always remains focused when it comes to pitching. The A’s, in my mind, have the uncanny ability to find pitching year in and year out.
Last year it was Brandon McCarthy and Guillermo Moscoso that helped lead Oakland pitchers to a nifty 3.71 ERA (3rd in AL). This year, though, will definitely put my assumption that Billy Beane & Co. really know their pitching to the test.
The A’s dismantled most of their starting rotation this offseason. Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez are both out of Oakland, meaning the A’s have find replacements for those guys. Last year, Cahill and Gonzalez won a combined 28 games. The dangerous duo won 33 games the year before that in 2010.
Oakland did acquire plenty of young talent in both the Cahill and Gonzalez deals, though. The A’s fared much better in the Gonzalez deal, but the A’s didn’t do too bad in the Cahill deal, either. The prized-gem of the Cahill deal is top pitching prospect, Jarrod Parker.
Parker, 23, is currently competing for one of the vacant spots in Oakland’s starting rotation. He has his share of competition, with guys like Tom Milone, Brad Peacock, Tyson Ross, and Graham Godfrey all vying for playing time this year. Parker comes into spring training, though, with the label “top-prospect,” and should have a legitimate shot at getting a role in Oakland’s starting rotation.
He did have Tommy John Surgery, but his performance last year in Double-A put some the concerns with his health to rest. In 26 starts last year with Double-A Mobile, Parker went 11-8 with a 3.79 ERA. He put in 130.2 innings of work last year in Double-A and also recorded 7.7 SO/9 and 3.8 BB/9 rates. The drop in strikeouts post Tommy John Surgery may have some people worried about Parker’s status as a projected No.1 or No.2 starter, but rest assured, the guy is fine.
His fastball can come in 93-94mph and as Eno Sarris of FanGraphs says, “scouts love his 93+mph fastball and slider, changeup combo.” In fact, Sarris also goes on to project Parker as Oakland’s best pitcher this year. He’ll beat out McCarthy and old-timer Bartolo Colon as the best Athletics pitcher in 2012.
Still, TJ surgery is likely to be on most people’s minds when it comes to Parker. His health will be under close watch again this year as he tries to earn a spot in Oakland’s depleted starting rotation. If the A’s handle his development correctly, Parker should top out as a No. 2 starter. He’s got a strong fastball and has the raw “stuff” to make a lasting impact on the Athletics organization.