With the ninth overall selection in the 2007 amateur draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks picked right-handed pitcher Jarrod Parker who had just graduated from Norwell High School in Ossian Indiana.
Scouts raved about his physical abilities and drew comparisons between Parker and Houston Astros staff ace Roy Oswalt. Parker would sign his first pro contract late that year missing the 2007 season.
Beginning in 2008 Parker was assigned to Single-A in South Bend for the Silverhawks. His assignment to South Bend showed what the Diamondbacks thought of their young pitcher skipping him over Rookie and Short-Season. During his first pro season Parker accumulated a 12-5 record with a 3.44 ERA.
The plan had always been to show patience with Parker but allow him to play at a level that would challenge his abilities while maintaining a consistent workload. In 2009 Parker was slotted for High Class-A in Visalia.
After just four starts it was clear Parker was overpowering the hitter-friendly California League posting a miniscule 0.95 ERA in 19 innings. This earned him a promotion to Double-A where he would play for the Mobile BayBears going 4-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 78.1 innings.
Parker would continue to impress the Diamondbacks and others in baseball earning him a spot in the Futures Game in St. Louis at the All-Star game. The Diamondbacks would need to re-evaluate the plan they had for Parker.
The new plan would have Parker finish the season in Mobile then pitch in the Arizona Fall League where teams showcase their best prospects in a higher level of competition. After a well deserved off-season break he would enter Spring Training 2010 with an opportunity to earn a spot in the Diamondbacks rotation.
All these plans came crashing to a halt on July 30th when Parker suffered an arm injury that would ultimately result in ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction commonly known as Tommy John surgery.
The surgery would shut Parker down for the remainder of 2009 as well as the 2010 season requiring a year of rehabilitation. Before the 2009 season, Parker was listed as the number 18 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball.
Being unable to compete for the latter half of 2009 and all of 2010 due to injury, everyone assumed Parker’s stock would drop with regards to ranking him among the best players in the minor leagues.
MLB TV presented their list of the top 50 prospects for 2010 and in somewhat of a surprise Parker was listed at number 21. While this is three spots lower than last year it is much higher than many predicted due to the surgery.
It is a testament of how far this surgery has come and the prognosis of full recovery. Parker will be working with the Diamondbacks training staff throughout 2010 building strength and flexibility so that he can hopefully fully recover and be ready for Spring Training in 2011.
That might be just what the Diamondbacks need if staff ace Brandon Webb departs in free agency as predicted. Here’s to hoping for an uneventful rehabilitation and quick healing. Until then congratulations to Jarrod Parker, the 21st best prospect in Minor League Baseball.