September 28, 2011 will be remembered as one of the most exciting nights in baseball history; an unprecedented evening that featured four teams vying for two playoff spots.
Like everyone at home watching the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays fight for a Wild Card berth, the crew of the MLB Network’s MLB Tonight Live (Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac) erupted with every new development, at times uncontrollably. But can you blame them? The significance, atmosphere, and unpredictable nature of the games reduced grown men to 7-year-old boys, as excitement and uneasiness built with every pitch. And then finally, this:
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But hey, isn’t baseball’s capacity to provoke such emotional reactions precisely why we love it?
As a ballplayer, there are certain moments shared with teammates that seem to outlive any play, game, or season.
While hitting a go-ahead or walk-off bomb is an incredible, personal accomplishment, it’s the ensuing reaction of your teammates that makes it so memorable. There are always those one or two guys – your closest buddies on the team – who are especially excited for you, just as you’d be for them. Perhaps excited isn’t even the right word. Rather, they’re proud of you.
Those emotions were transparent last night following Matt Joyce’s go-ahead, three-run shot, as he navigated the Rays’ dugout through a sea of high-fives and hugs. Waiting for him at the end of the line was his good buddy and teammate since 2009, Reid Brignac, who greeted him in a manner that screamed, “Dude, I knew you could do it.”
2011 has been a monumental year for MLB prospects. This season we have seen an inordinate amount of top-ranked prospects make their Major League Debuts, most of which have been celebrated here at the Sombrero.
Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in first round (9th overall) of the 2007 draft, Parker validated his draft position by going 12-5 with a 3.44 ERA and 117/33 K/BB ratio over 118 inning for South Bend in 2008. He began the following season with High-A Visalia before earning a quick promotion to Double-A Mobile where he recorded a 0.95 ERA over four starts.
However, the 6-foot-1 right-hander was plagued by elbow problems and Tommy John surgery prematurely ended his season, while the subsequent rehabilitation forced him to miss the entire 2010 season.
With a brand new elbow, the 22-year-old has stayed healthy this season, and his numbers reflect such: 11-8 with a 3.79 ERA and 112/55 K/BB in 131 innings.
Parker’s fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, and he has touched 96-97 mph on occasion. His slider, which was graded a plus pitch and served as his out pitch prior to surgery, remains a plus despite the fact that he’s thrown it considerably less. In it’s place, the Indiana native has shown an improved changeup – many consider it to be a plus now, too – and he also flashed a solid curveball.
With four above average pitches and mechanics that make pitching coaches uncontrollably drool, Parker figures to become a front-end starter (likely a two or three) for the Diamondbacks within the next couple years.
Parker’s debut tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers will be fans first taste of the highly regarded prospect, as he hopefully makes his case to be part of the D-backs’ 2012 starting rotation.