The road to the Major Leagues is not always a smooth ride, as many top prospects that appear to be destined for greatness stumble on their quest to make it to the show. Struggles to adjusting to professional baseball in the minor league ranks and incumbent stars blocking a promotion have derailed the careers of many young players, while elbow and shoulder injuries can stunt the growth of promising young pitchers.
Such was the case of Oakland Athletic righty Jarrod Parker, a former first round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2007 amateur draft. The former Norwell High School start from Ossian, Indiana showed all the promise in the world before missing the entire 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
At just 19 years of age, Parker delivered a modest 3.44 ERA in 117.9 innings of work in Single-A ball, but flashed signs of brilliance with a 8.8 SO/9 rate, while walking just 2.5 batters per nine innings.
Parker joined the Oakland Athletics on December 9, 2011 as part of a multi-player deal that sent Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the Diamondbacks. The trade proved beneficial for the young Parker, as he was able to leave the hitter friendly home of the Diamondbacks for the more pitcher friendly confines of O.co Coliseum.
In eight starts this season, Parker has delivered six quality starts, including an eight inning, shutout gem against the venerable Texas Rangers on Monday night. Closer examination of Parker’s numbers reveal a young pitcher that has pitched well against some of the best teams in the American League, including starts against the Tigers, Red Sox and Angels.
Fantasy owners looking for a solid young pitcher with tons of upside should consider adding Parker to their roster. He is currently available in 78% of standard yahoo leagues, and his upcoming schedule likely includes a start at home against the lowly San Diego Padres.
If there is one glaring knock against Parker, it is the fact that his 4.4 BB/9 rate is somewhat of a concern. In addition, he has been somewhat lucky this season with a BAbip of .250.