Up-and-Down Spring for D-backs' Top Prospect

Up-and-Down Spring for D-backs' Top Prospect

After three spring starts, Jarrod Parker has walked five batters and fanned just one, yet his first four innings were scoreless ones. Does Jarrod Parker still have a shot at what has become a crowded Arizona Diamondbacks starting rotation?

In what could develop into one of the marquee matchups in the NL West for years to come, Diamondbacks right-hander Jarrod Parker met Colorado All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in his first outing of the spring February 28.

Making his first spring training appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery in November 2009, Parker was understandably amped. He gave up a hit and walked two to bring up Tulowitzki with two outs and the bases loaded. Parker got out of the inning by getting Tulowitzki to fly to short right field on an 0-and-1 pitch.

"He's got a golden arm, for sure," manager Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks said. "Tulo knows (Parker) has some pop. When he offers at that pitch, that's a little respect from a guy who's pretty good."

"It was good to get that inning under my belt," added Parker, who complements a mid-90s fastball with a power slider, curveball, and changeup. "To battle a little bit was fun. The adrenaline was pumping. I was excited going against the Rockies, facing a pretty good lineup out there. I'm not where I want to be, but that's what spring training is for. I'm preparing as much as I can for this coming season."

Parker, 22, followed that scoreless inning with two more against San Diego on March 3. In his third outing, however, Parker got rocked by the White Sox for four earned runs over 1.1 innings of work.

While anything is possible, Parker probably will open the season in the high minors as the D-backs monitor his early progress. He made three appearances in the D-backs' instructional league program last fall, his first games since the elbow operation.

"I'd like to think I'm in that mix for a rotation spot in 2011. I'll compete and push everybody else," said Parker.  "I just want to be as healthy as I can for this upcoming season."

Scout.com ranked Parker as the 37th-best prospect in the major leagues entering the season, the highest of the eight D-backs ranked among the top 300. 

As he said, "I'm about done being a prospect."


--INF Melvin Mora was in a minor auto accident Monday and was expected to be sidelined for a few days. Manager Kirk Gibson told reporters that Mora's car was hit from behind and, while he wasn't severely injured, he will need a few days to recover.

--RHP Aaron Heilman, who signed after being assured he would get a chance to crack the rotation, was the first starter to go three innings when he retired all nine batters March 2 against Seattle. Heilman has given up one hit and no walks in his five spring innings, and the only runner was erased on a double play grounder. "Heilman was awesome," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's certainly going for it. You come out and command the zone. That's what we are looking for."

--1B Russell Branyan and 1B Juan Miranda hit home runs on back-to-back days the first week of spring training, punctuating the competition between those two and 1B/OF Brandon Allen for the starting first base job. All bat left-handed. Branyan hit a three-run home run March 2 before Miranda hit a two-run opposite-field home run March 3. It is a game of leap-frog that could be spring-long thing, and manager Kirk Gibson seemed to relish that. "That's what we want," he said.

--INF/OF Ryan Roberts, competing for a backup infield spot, came to camp a new man after being beaten out for a reserve role in the spring of 2010 and spending most of the season at Class AAA Reno. "I changed every aspect of my life," Roberts, 30, said of a winter makeover that included a more rigorous conditioning routine and a dietary change to eliminate sweets.

--RHP Juan Gutierrez, in competition for an eighth-inning setup role, gave up seven earned runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 of his first three appearances. His ERA was 23.63, but he was not concerned. "The velocity is there; the pitches are there," Gutierrez said after giving up three runs in 2/3 of an inning against San Diego on March 4. "I just need to get the location."

DIAMOND STAT: 15 -- Times Ryan Roberts reached base with a hit or walk in his first 19 plate appearances this spring while competing for a reserve role.

QUOTABLE: "Yeah, he's impressive. Got on top of that fastball. He's got power. He's played well." -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, after watching 1B Juan Miranda hit an opposite field homer on March 2.

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