August 27, 2010
By David Driver
For the Stafford County Sun
Used with permission
Many top baseball players spent this summer making their pro debut, from the New-York Penn League to the Appalachian League in Virginia to the Gulf Coast League in Florida. Stafford resident Jarrett Parker, a graduate of Colonial Forge High School, was studying the ethnic conflicts of civil wars around the globe for a class at the University of Virginia.
Parker needs about 25 credits to get a degree in foreign affairs from Jefferson's university in Charlottesville. But his focus the next few weeks will be on his first season in pro baseball. Parker was drafted in the second round in June by the San Francisco Giants, one of the highest picks in school history.
The outfielder, one of the top players in the country the past two seasons, did not sign a contract until Aug. 16, just hours before the deadline. Had he not reached a deal with the Giants, he would have been eligible to play for the Cavaliers as a senior in 2011.
So Parker stayed in Charlottesville over the summer, taking a class and working out with other current and former Virginia players. He made the 30-minute drive to Waynesboro a few times to see some of his former Virginia teammates play in the Valley Baseball League, a wood-bat circuit for college eligible players.
"I knew it was going to be a last-day signing, from what happened after I was drafted," Parker, an all-state player at Colonial Forge and an all-Commonwealth District player said in a telephone interview after he signed with the Giants.
Many of the top picks in the draft signed just hours, or even minutes, before the Major League Baseball deadline. That included No. 1 overall pick and junior college slugger Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Manny Machado, a high school shortstop from Florida who signed with the Baltimore Orioles as the third pick overall.
Bobby Evans, vice president of baseball operations for the Giants, told MLB.com he wished the team could have signed Parker earlier in the summer.
"We had hoped to be done a lot sooner; we prefer to get guys out a lot earlier," Evans said. "Sometimes it just takes longer than you wish."
Is it disappointing that Parker signed with a west coast team, which will make it harder for family and friends to see him play?
"I would not say it is a downside. It is definitely going to be tough," he said.
Parker has already experienced the effects of long-distance travel. He went to the spring training home of the Giants, in Arizona, for a physical and to sign his contract, and then arrived in Stafford on Aug. 17. The next day he said his temperature was 103 degrees and he felt like he had a fever or virus. That delayed his introduction to pro baseball.
What did he think of the spring training site?
"It is so nice. The field was great," Parker said. "The staff was nice to me."
This past season Parker, at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, hit .333 with 56 runs, 17 doubles, 10 homers and eight triples in 65 games for the ACC team. He was all-ACC for the second year in a row.
Parker is slated to begin his pro career in the Arizona League and then report to Salem-Keizer, the short-season affiliate of the Giants in Oregon. That team plays in the Northwest League and the manager is Tom Trebelhorn, a former coach for the Orioles. The low Single-A farm team in the Giants' system is in Augusta, Ga. If Parker can advance to the Double-A level he has a chance to play in Richmond, the current home of the Eastern League team in the San Francisco chain. The top farm club for the Giants, one stop from the majors, is in Fresno, California. The Salem-Keizer seasons in early September.
"I think I can move fast" up the system, he said. "I have not really set any goals, time-wise (for making the majors). I know I can do well."
Another local player drafted in June was Army pitcher Matt Fouch, another Colonial Forge High graduate who was taken in the 34th round by the Atlanta Braves. He has pitched in the minors this year for teams in Danville and Rome, Ga. and did not allow a run in his first six pro games.
Notes: Players in the Giants system with ties to the mid-Atlantic region include infielder Emmanuel Burriss, who played at Wilson High in Washington, D.C. and pitcher Chris Ray (William and Mary), a long-time resident of the Ashland area and a former closer for the Orioles. Ray went on the disabled list with the Giants on Aug. 18 while Burriss was hitting .289 with Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League in his first 194 at bats this season.