The Chicago Cubs are looking to solidify their bullpen and Blake Parker has a lot of experience pitching late in games. Parker was drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round in 2006, but he wasn’t drafted as a pitcher. In 2006 he played first base, third base, and catcher. He struggled at the plate, but the Cubs were impressed with his arm, so in 2007 he started over as a pitcher.
Carlos Marmol and Randy Wells were both catchers in the minor leagues before becoming pitchers. The 24-year old, 6’3″, 225-pound right-hander features a sinking fastball that can reach 96 mph, a slider and a change-up. Blake Parker spent most of last season in AAA Iowa as their closer, notching 22 saves. Parker began the year in Tennessee and picked up three saves for Ryne Sandberg before his promotion. Parker recorded 77 strikeouts and walked 35 batters in 63 1/3 innings (44 hits and 19 earned runs). He finished the season with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP between Tennessee (1.46 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) and Iowa (3.00 ERA, 1.24 WHIP).
After a sold minor league season, Parker pitched in the Arizona Fall League. He struck out 11, walked six, and gave up six earned runs in 12 innings. Parker was selected to play in the AFL Rising Stars Showcase.
Blake Parker was added to the Cubs 40-man roster November 20, 2009. He had a short spring training with the big league club. Parker pitched 3 2/3 innings (four games) and gave up three runs while issuing six walks and he struck out four. So far this season with the I-Cubs, Parker has not allowed a run in three innings (three strikeouts, three walks and two hits).
Blake Parker has the ability to be a solid middle reliever or possibly an eighth inning setup man. He has the stuff to strikeout batters at the big league level but must work on throwing strikes on a consistent basis. Parker needs to show better command in order to pitch in the majors.
Lou Piniella needs relievers that can throw strikes late in games … and if Parker shows he can do that in AAA this year, he could get a call up to the big league club at some point this year.
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