Sep 26, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Jarrett Parker (47) hits a grand slam home run against the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning of their MLB baseball game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
If you already gave up on following the San Francisco Giants this season, maybe you should rethink your schedule and tune back in. Some of these September call-ups could become permanent players in 2016. In particular, Jarrett Parker has made quite the impression.
After being promoted just 17 days ago, Parker has made the most of his 27 at-bats, smashing six home runs, three of those coming in one game on Saturday at O.Co Coliseum against the Oakland A’s. In fact, Parker became the first Giants player since the great Willie Mays with three home runs and seven RBI in a single game. Manager Bruce Bochy called Parker’s dominance “the best offensive game I’ve seen.” And that’s coming from somebody who has played nine years and has managed for 22 in the MLB.
In his 11 games in September, the 26-year-old is slashing an unreal .500/.550/1.556, while driving in 12 runs. Not only are the Giants taking notice of Parker’s recent success, opposing teams’ pitchers are beginning to pitch more cautiously, as illustrated by him receiving his first big-league walks over the past few days.
So, what’s this kid’s story? Where did he come from? Why wasn’t he one of our top prospects?
Well, Parker has had success wherever he has played, beginning at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Virginia, where he earned himself a scholarship to the University of Virginia after leading his team to a Northwest Regional Championship. With the Virginia Cavaliers, Parker got off to a rough start during the fall, posting a batting average of just .100. In an interview with Virginia Sports, Parker had this to say about his poor play in the Fall: “I think it was mostly mental. I was trying to do too much and impress people.
“Parker is arguably one of the top candidates for the starting left field position in 2016.”
After an effort to gain muscle mass, Parker gained 20 pounds and earned himself a starting spot. Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said this in an interview with Jay Jenkins of The Daily Progress: “I can tell you in my years of coaching that I never had a player from one year to the next make as big a stride as he has in a one-year turnaround.”
Through his sophomore season, Parker had already set the single-season runs record with 76, and his ability to lead the Cavaliers to an ACC Championship helped earn him the rating of the No. 12 prospect in the country. Parker finished with a .326 batting average, 26 home runs, and 46 stolen bases in his three years with Virginia.
Parker fell to the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft when the Giants selected him with the 74th overall pick. San Francisco offered Parker a $700,000 signing bonus to sway him from returning to Virginia for his senior season, which he accepted.
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Parker’s scouting report listed him as “an average power threat,” and said that his “power/speed potential is enticing—but an ugly strikeout rate gives us pause.” McCovey Chronicles compared Parker to Adam Dunn, who would finish 3rd all-time in strikeouts as a hitter with 2,379 because of his ability to hit the long ball, but his high amount of strikeouts.
Parker began his professional career with the Single-A San Jose Giants for both 2011 and 2012 where his title of being a “strikeout machine” began. Parker displayed solid power by blasting a combined 28 home runs in those two seasons, but he also struck out 319 times in a little over 249 games.
Prior to the 2013 season, Parker was promoted to the Double-AA Richmond Flying Squirrels where he would continue to hit for power and swipe bases, but struck out on average at least once per game (combined 264 strikeouts in just 231 games). Later in the 2014 season, Parker would be promoted to Triple-AAA Fresno Grizzlies (who were the Giants Triple-AAA affiliate from 1998-2014).
After being invited to Spring Training prior to the 2015 season, Parker was optioned to Triple-AAA Sacramento where he really started to find his stroke. In 124 games, he hit for an average of .284 with 23 home runs and 74 RBIs, earning him two promotions to the big leagues before September; however, he would only receive 10 at-bats, but did manage to capture his first big league base hit.
Of course, we all now know how Parker has been doing throughout this month of September. With the Giants possibly not picking up the option of Nori Aoki and the outfield free agent market looking a little lean, Parker is arguably one of the top candidates for the starting left field position in 2016.
“Parker’s power is intriguing. It’s something we could use,” said Bochy in an interview after Saturday’s 14-10 victory over Oakland, “When we go into meetings this winter, we’ll be talking about him.”
So now you know the story of Jarrett Parker, the kid from Virginia who could prove to be the starting left fielder and middle-of-the-order power threat for San Francisco next season.