Parker a versatile power source in Rockies' pipeline
Ninth-ranked prospect played QB at Clemson; recently added to 40-man roster
The Colorado Rockies are hoping that 6-foot, 200-pound Kyle Parker may add some power to their lineup in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Just when Parker will be ready to contribute at the Major League level is yet to be determined.
Parker recently was added to the Rockies' 40-man roster as an outfielder. When I saw him in the Arizona Fall League, he was playing first base. The versatility of being able to play outfield and first base is a real plus for the Rockies.
Parker's road to the Rockies was a bit complicated and a bit anxiety-producing, as well.
Parker is such a good athlete, he could have pursued a professional career in football or baseball.
Parker played both sports in high school. In fact, he left high school early to attend Clemson University, where he played quarterback for the Tigers in the 2009 and '10 seasons. He also continued to play baseball, becoming the only player in NCAA Division I history to throw 20 touchdowns and hit 20 home runs in the same year.
Parker was selected by the Rockies with their first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and chose to follow a career in baseball.
Parker is ranked ninth among the Rockies' top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com.
Assigned to Asheville in the Class A South Atlantic League in 2011, Parker hit a very fine .285 with 23 doubles, a triple and 21 home runs in his first year of professional baseball. He drove in 95 runs in 117 games and 516 plate appearances. Parker was on the map as a promising power hitter at age 21. The only negative was a high strikeout total of 133.
The following season, Parker hit even better, hitting .308 in 102 games for Class A Advanced Modesto in the California League. Again, his bat was booming, as he hit 23 homers to go along with 18 doubles and six triples. He reduced his strikeouts to 88 and increased his walks from 48 the previous year to 66.
This past season, Parker was promoted again. He played for Double-A Tulsa in the Texas League, hitting .288 with 23 doubles, three triples and 23 homers. His strikeouts increased a bit (99) and his walks declined (40). Against tougher competition in 21 more games played, Parker produced a third consecutive solid season.
Parker is not a huge man, for having a nice power stroke. In fact, his strong forearms and wrists are major contributors to him generating power.
As a right-handed hitter, Parker's arms are strong enough that he can be a bit tardy on a pitch and still drive the ball to the right-center-field gap with minimal effort. His raw power is aided by a short, measured stroke that is compact enough to take advantage of very quick hands through the ball.
The tardiness comes from late pitch recognition, not slow hands.
Once Parker is more aware of pitchers changing speeds, altering eye levels and moving the direction of throws, he will hit even better for average. And he's already pretty good.
Parker is not that fast, and he may play well in left field where he has less ground to cover. But he has enough arm strength to play in right. And of course, he was playing first base in the Fall League.
Clearly, Parker's raw power provides the Rockies with the potential of future versatility.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.