In the move that dominated the news cycle yesterday, the Giants called up Jarrett Parker from Sacramento to replace Gregor Blanco. Blanco got put on the 7-day concussion DL after being hit by a stray throw from Brandon Belt, who presumably called up Marco Scutaro immediately afterwards to yell "I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!" But what kind of player is Jarrett Parker? Is he the next Mike Trout, except better? Probably! Let's take a look.
Jarrett Parker was drafted out of the University of Virginia in the second round in 2010, so he was personally endorsed by Thomas Jefferson. Parker had just dropped in the prospect rankings, and there were a couple big reasons for that: first, his college strikeout numbers were astronomical. Second, his performance in the 2009 Cape Cod League was abysmal, as he hit .188/.313/.361 in 96 ABs for the Brewster Whitecaps. For those of you who want to read too much into that, that same year Matt Duffy hit .187/.286/.299, so you can't really tell too much from one summer on the Cape. The fact that's the Astros' Matt Duffy in no way undermines my point.
Parker started his Giants career in San Jose in 2011, hitting .253/.360/.397 in 571 PAs. The next year, he dramatically improved his raw numbers to .247/.366/.443, but his strikeout rate jumped from 25% to 35%. For the next year and a half, he was in AA, hitting a combined .259/.361/.445 in 943 PAs, though with across-the-board improvements in his second year in everything but dingers and walk rate:
And then he was called up to the majors! It was for only one day, but it was the sweetest day of his life. People carried his luggage, the ballpark was like a cathedral, and Madison Bumgarner had long legs and brains. That day counts, dammit, even if one person in San Jose didn't think so:
They erased Jarrett Parker's name on the list of SJ Giants who played in the bigs. :-( pic.twitter.com/bcKqicqXQh— Kristin (@legaleagle88) August 24, 2014
And so, after that day, Jarrett got sent down to AAA, first in Fresno and then in Sacramento, which is like getting called up in that he doesn't have to live in Fresno anymore. And since he's been in AAA, he's gotten back to being that high strikeout, high power guy, though this year both the strikeouts and power have increased dramatically. Jarrett's posting the highest ISO of his career, and the second-highest K%, behind only that 2012 season in San Jose. And he's made enough of an impression on Giants brass that he got called up.
Before we go any further, let's address one question: why not Juan Perez? After all, if he was good enough to start for the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series last year (FYI, the Giants won), then you'd think he'd be the natural replacement. Sadly, Juan Perez has had a miserable year, hitting .233/.282/.357 for the River Cats, and he's been playing the outfield like Hanley Ramirez if he used a potato for a mitt. From what I've seen his problems in the field don't look physical – he can still make some spectacular catches – but Juan's been having a lot more brain farts in the outfield than we're used to seeing from him. It's very uncharacteristic, but it's also happening, and the Giants are taking it into account.
So what kind of hitter is Jarrett Parker likely to be in the majors? Well, let's look at his AAA numbers this year, compared to the first 10 years of a well-known player's career:
|Jarrett Parker (AAA)||.268||.382||.514||15.5||34.1||5.4|
That MYSTERY PLAYER:
Richard Nixon Adam Dunn.
In AAA, Jarrett Parker has been hitting like Adam Dunn with fewer walks and more strikeouts, but he also plays excellent defense. He's a very good player in AAA! The problem is that he's striking out all the time against AAA pitching, so when he starts to face pitching in the majors, those strikeouts breed like locusts, which is an especially apt metaphor because of all the ineffectual swatting.
It seems like a given that he'll strike out more often in the majors, though baseball loves to troll people and it should feel free to make me look stupid here. However, from what I've seen in Sacramento, he seems too passive early in the count. When he's off, it seems like he goes up to the plate, politely taps the umpire on the shoulder, and tells him to start the count at 0-2 to save everyone some time. Fred Lewis watches his ABs and mutters "Man, you have got to be more aggressive." When he's on, however, he's getting into hitter's counts, and then driving the ball with authority all over the field. That guy's better. He should try to do that all the time.
I'm very good at baseball strategy.
Welcome to the majors, Jarrett Parker. I hope you do very well, I hope you strike out much less than I think you will, and I hope you permanently get your name painted on that damn wall.